Academic Standards or Discriminatory Hoops? Learning-Disabled Student-Athletes and the NCAA Initial Academic Eligibility Requirements

Maureen Weston

Pepperdine University School of Law


Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 66, No. 1049, 1999

This Article explores the impact of federal disability laws on the NCAA's authority to apply its initial academic eligibility requirements to learning-disabled student-athletes. Part II provides an overview of the three primary federal laws governing students with learning disabilities. Part III describes the NCAA and the standards and processes it employs to determine freshman eligibility for athletic scholarships and participation in intercollegiate sports. Part IV tracks the judicial responses to litigation brought by students with learning disabilities challenging the NCAA eligibility criteria under the ADA. Part V analyzes the ADA's application to the NCAA and identifies specific instances in which the NCAA's process and standards for determining eligibility disparately impact students with learning disabilities. This analysis further examines the extent to which, if at all, the NCAA is obliged to modify its eligibility academic standards in order to accommodate students with learning disabilities, and considers whether the traditional judicial deference given to academic institutions to set academic standards is similarly warranted in the case of the NCAA. The Article concludes by exploring options for balancing the interest of the NCAA and its member institutions to ensure academic integrity in the intercollegiate athletic competition with the right of students with learning disabilities to participate in such competition despite their learning impairments.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 79

Keywords: National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA, student-athlete, college sports, collegiate athletics, intercollegiate sports, intercollegiate athletics, learning disability, learning impairment, academic eligibility, American Disability Act, ADA, reasonable accommodation

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Date posted: July 9, 2014  

Suggested Citation

Weston, Maureen, Academic Standards or Discriminatory Hoops? Learning-Disabled Student-Athletes and the NCAA Initial Academic Eligibility Requirements (1999). Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 66, No. 1049, 1999. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2463727

Contact Information

Maureen Weston (Contact Author)
Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
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