Aurellia Cammock, who should be smoothly transitioning into her freshman year on the women’s basketball at Iona College, is waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Unlike athletes who struggled academically and are sweating out postgraduate courses or extra SAT and ACT tests, Cammock has a much more mundane problem: paperwork.
A city Department of Education spokesperson told the paper Sunday that the NCAA has determined Cammock is not academically eligible, but the player’s mother says the message she’s received from the college is that the paperwork from the high school is incomplete.
Edward Kratt, a lawyer for the family, has even sharper words for Brooklyn Generation School, where Cammock attended high school:
“Their attitude is totally the opposite of that, like, ‘Don’t bother us.’”
Another report offers enough of a clue to tell what might be going on:
The Department of Education said the problems stems from a misunderstanding. “According to the principal, the NCAA did not certify the courses and therefore the student is not eligible for an athletic scholarship,” the DOE said in a statement.
Schools must submit their core courses for review by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Brooklyn Generation School was founded in 2007 and is operated by Generation Schools, a non-profit secondary school organization looking to change the public schooling model. Despite the fact that Brooklyn Generation School was an existing campus (South Shore HS, still what the athletics teams compete under), it likely needed to get its entire core course list re-approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center.
If you pull up Brooklyn Generation School’s approved core course list, it is very small. The school only has three math course, basic English courses, and French 1–3 approved. Even more surprising, Spanish 1 is the only Spanish class approved and Algebra 1 is not approved.
Digging a little bit deeper, we find that Commack’s school has a lengthy denied list. Based on what Iona told Commack one or more of the courses marked with the reason code RC8 is the problem. RC8 is the code for a course which might be approved but for which the NCAA has requested additional information.
The solution seems simple: have the school gather up the additional paperwork and send it off to the NCAA. So why is the school dragging its feet and/or refusing to cooperate? Part of the problem is one that all schools in this situation face: timing. The paperwork the NCAA is requesting may be extensive, and schools keep odd hours and are short-staffed during the summer. But the Generation Schools model may exacerbate this problem:
We offset longer school days with somewhat shorter training days: trading time for time. The total work hours balance out to be the same as in any school.
The instructors or administrators (many are in dual roles) needed to process this paperwork to get Commack’s classes approved may be even less available during the summer at a Generation Schools facility than a regular public high school.
A new organization seeking to shake up secondary education, less time spent on administrative work in favor of instruction, and a backlog of courses that need more information for NCAA approval is a recipe for a problem. Commack’s case is not unique or even that uncommon, because it is not until an athlete faces the possibility of not being a qualifier that these issues come up.