The NCAA's stricter scholastic eligibility requirements for incoming athletes at Division I schools have begun taking their toll among former Westside and South Bay prep basketball players and also among prospective freshman cagers at Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.
Basketball players who reportedly have failed to meet minimum standards in college entrance examinations and will be unable to play as freshmen include former St. Monica High guard Earl Duncan (Syracuse), Loyola's 6-9 recruit Marcellus Lee from Pomona High and three players recruited by Pepperdine: Michael Courtney of Westchester High, Lafayette Dorsey of Dorsey High and Wally Carter of Las Vegas High.
Spokesman for UCLA and USC said their schools were not experiencing problems with the tighter eligibility.
Standards and Options
Under the new NCAA standards, adopted in 1982 but taking effect this fall, a scholarship candidate must either score a combined 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or a 15 on the American College Test. He also must have a 2.0 grade-point average (on a scale of 4) in a core curriculum that includes three years of English, two years of mathematics, two of a social science and two more of a natural or physical science.
The recruit who does not meet this criteria has several options:
- Forfeit the scholarship and attend a junior college.
- Accept the scholarship, not practice or play with a team and forgo one year of eligibility.
- Accept financial aid, if he qualifies, instead of a scholarship and attend a school without playing or practicing the first year, retaining four years of eligibility.
Duncan, who averaged 25.4 points a game last year, said he will still attend Syracuse and forfeit one year of eligibility. And according to Loyola Coach Paul Westhead, Lee will do likewise.
Wave Coach Jim Harrick said that, as far as he knew, Carter, Courtney and Dorsey will attend Pepperdine next fall and that he planned to talk to the players and their parents about the options open to freshmen who failed entrance tests.
Frake Beij, a 7-0 native of the Netherlands who played high school ball in Salt Lake City last season, was the Waves' only other freshman recruit. Beij passed his entrance test and will redshirt next season, Harrick said.
Although the fact that Pepperdine won't be able to use three of its freshman recruits did not come as a surprise to Harrick, their loss may deliver a blow to his team, which lost three top senior guards and a star senior forward from last year's West Coast Athletic Conference champion.
Harrick said he wasn't counting on Carter, Courtney (who at 6-5 could play forward or guard) or Dorsey to replace guards Dwayne Polee, Jon Korfas or Grant Gondrezick or forward Anthony Frederick. Polee, Gondrezick and Frederick were recently drafted by National Basketball Assn. teams.
"You never know good a freshman is going to be, but it's always nice when (one of them) gives a shot in the arm to our program," Harrick said.
He said that he and his assistants realized that the freshman trio's chances of passing their SATs "would be a 50-50 proposition after we saw their transcripts last spring. But they had all year, up to the first of July, to take the test."
The Pepperdine coach said he favors the stricter standards, but he added, "It would probably be a good idea, if the NCAA is going to continue with this, to adopt a rule not allowing a school to sign a guy unless he passes (one of the two entrance exams). It's a crying shame and beyond all comprehension why they have to lose a year."
Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse coach, criticized the rule as harsh and unfair.
"The intent of the rule is good, but I don't think the SAT is always a good indication of how a student will do in college," he said. "Earl's a good student; he had about a 2.3 GPA. He just doesn't test well.
"Besides, everyone else has five years to play four, so I think they should too."
Duncan, who reportedly scored a 600 on the SAT, agreed with Boeheim.
"It's like double jeopardy," he said. "They tell you that you can't play and then they take away a year. Right away, you have two strikes against you.
"I love playing basketball. It's my life. But I never thought about going to a junior college. Syracuse is one of the most prestigious schools in the East and I'm not going to throw away a $14,000 scholarship.
"I just can't do that. I'll just bust my butt this year in the classroom and play for three years."
Duncan said he plans to work out to keep his skills sharp and will learn the Syracuse system from the stands.
"That'll give me the chance to analyze the game and see what Coach Boeheim likes," Duncan said. "I'll be able to put my style in sync with his."
Since All-American guard Dwayne (Pearl) Washington declared himself a hardship case and entered the NBA draft last month, Boeheim said the Orangemen are "a little thin at the guard position." So Duncan would have had an opportunity to contribute immediately, he added.