One of the reason Jeff Tedford was able to catapult Cal back into national contention so quickly was his ability to use academic exemptions on certain recruits that would otherwise never have been able to make it into Berkeley. The policy worked for awhile and got us some big-time players. But I think near the end of his term in Berkeley, when the football program leaned a little too much on this policy, it started backfiring in a major way.
Now, with Cal struggling to extract themselves from muddy graduation rates and low APR scores, the Bears are stringing together tougher academic policies for admissions for student-athletes and particularly the football and basketball teams. I don't know how this will work.
By the 2017-18 school year, Cal football's incoming freshman class will include no more than five players who achieved lower than a 3.0 grade-point average in high school, according to a new student-athlete admissions policy.
The policy, approved Oct. 17 by the UC Berkeley Academic Senate, will go into effect for the 2015-16 school year and will gradually bring athlete admissions into closer alignment with those of the general student body.
For 2017-18, at least 80 percent of all incoming athletes at Cal will have the minimum 3.0 GPA in high school that is required of all other students applying to the university. No more than 20 percent will be admitted through a separate process involving scrutiny by the UC Director of Admissions and the Student-Athlete Admissions Committee (SAAC).
Panos Papadopoulos, chair of the Academic Senate, confirmed that a typical freshman football recruiting class of 25 in 2017-18 would have no more than five members who arrived with below a 3.0 GPA.
So there are upsides and downsides to this policy.
The upside is that Cal should finally have a football team that matches the profile of their academic program. It's something that is long overdue. Cal has had way too many high-profile recruits end up in Berkeley the past half-decade that have flamed out, transferred, underachieved or been flat out dismissed. They might have been good kids, but if Berkeley is not the place for most students, it certainly is not the right place for a majority of Division I athletes.
The downside is that Cal is going to have to start becoming very selective in their recruiting, and that will make it much harder for the Bears to find the players they want.
Currently, he said, between 50 and 62 percent of football players are admitted despite having a GPA below 3.0. Papadopoulos did not have similar figures for men's basketball.
So it's not easy to find 3.0 GPA high school students who can play Division I football. This almost certainly means more JUCO recruiting (a place where recruits just bust way too much), because high school kids just won't have the necessary grades to get here.
It actually might be part of the reason recruiting buzz has been so low lately--Sonny Dykes and company are probably going to be very closely monitoring GPAs this season as they try and get players to commit to Cal, and those winter grades might be the last important piece of the puzzle.
I know they say Cal has to recruit nationally to find the best prospects available. But Cal is not Stanford, who has a huge athletic endowment and national alumni resources that allow them to commit themselves to the entire country. Also, Stanford has bent the rules since Jim Harbaugh arrived to attract plenty of recruits to build his program, and rampant grade inflation ensures they will all graduate because private schools bend the rules because $$$$$$. I doubt Cal will do any such hand-holding.
If the Bears are to start recruiting on the national scale proposed by this article, we are going to need more of a recruiting budget to send our coaches as far as they can go. It's one thing to just recruit good students, but they still have to perform at a level commensurate to the type of player you see in the Pac-12. We have a lot more revamping to do to find the recruits we need.
What do you all think. Will this policy work in our favor, against us, or not have any huge effect on our on-field performance?