Ivy League Academic Index

Submitted by Swayze Howell Sheen on December 25th, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Neat article about the "academic index", used by the Ivy League schools to ensure some kind of fairness across schools. The basic idea is simple: compute a formula based on GPA and SAT scores, and ensure each school has about the same average across their athletes.

More here:


Should the Big Ten, SEC, etc., be forced to do something like this too? (it certainly would be interesting to know the AIs of various schools)


Doc Brown

December 25th, 2011 at 3:36 PM ^

I will be in the minority here but honestly major universities should ramp up its entrance requirements. College is supposed to educate the nation's public for entrance into white collar and academic careers. We should not be teaching the basics which this country's secondary failed to do so. If an athlete has holes in their academic skills then they should attend community college or junior college. I see way too many college freshmen lacking basic mathematics skills such as dividing and multiplication in mechanics. How am I supposed to teach the basics of vector algebra when students can barely divide? I could less of they are athletes, if they don't have the skills for college then they should not be in college.


December 25th, 2011 at 5:30 PM ^

While I generally agree that the standards for student atheletes should be more stringent, its hard to justify penalizing students who were maybe not given the opportunity to excell academically. A lot of atheltes come from schools which have very poor academics compared to the general student body of Michigan. I think one of the best things about college sports is it allows for athletes from poorer backgrounds to create a future by themselves, without relying on teachers to give them the information to succeed; since a lot of the time they do not have those resources.

We accept atheltes who have obviously put in an exceptional amount of work to get where they are atheletically. They clearly have the drive and work ethic to succeed. Just because their enviroment, which they often do not have any control of, didn't allow them to learn everything they should have in highschool shouldn't deprive them of the opportunity to come to a world class instituiton and reach their full potential. Obviously if they do lack the aformentioned characterisitcs then they take the route of Tate and the system ultimately gave them an opportunity that they failed to capitalize on. Which I think is much better than not giving them the opportunity at all.


December 25th, 2011 at 7:26 PM ^

It is exactly their job. This isn't a new problem and is why student athletes get so many resources to help them succeed.

They generate millions of dollars in revenue for us and you don't think it is the job of a public institution to help them further their life? For what student athletes contribute to the university (and I'm pretty sure revenue sports are the only sports that are accepting kids that don't have all the knowledge they should at that point in life), I think we could at least give them the opportunity to succeed. It works out for the majority of them.

Regardless, the problem needs to be addressed at the root. Not after high school. Addressing the issue after highschool would result in an even greater proliferation of the problem.


December 25th, 2011 at 7:44 PM ^

I don't know, you're not really fixing the problem. The problem is at the K-12 level across America.  These kids are not getting the skills they need early on... and that is what needs fixing.  Strengthen our Elementary and High Schools.  Add to the fact that these athletes have unique skills often with real economic value, and I think the current system as it is isn't fair.  Athletes are virtually forced to play as amateurs at the collegiate level for 1-3 years (with no pay for the services.)  Now you want to make it harder for them to give away their services for free?

Let's face it, College Sports is a business.  If you're going to fix something, fix K-12.  Then maybe athletes getting a  "free education" would actually be something all student-athletes could actually take advantage of.


December 25th, 2011 at 4:03 PM ^

It's an interesting idea. I'm not sure how well it would work outside the Ivy League, though, because most of the major conferences don't have a similar level of academic consisentcy across the confernence. Every year, of course, Michigan does have to pass on student athletes who can't cut it academically who then sometimes end up at another B1G institution.  But here's the rub, if a standard were to be set for the B1G, it would most likely not be set to a lower standard than Michigan already uses. I don't see any way some high standard would be set, forcing some of the lower tier universities in the conference to match Michigan's academic standards. 

If such an index were to be used, I would want the university averages to be public (and the same basic criteria used in other conferences), so that we would have an additional point of comparison with other schools to show off Michigan's high academic standards.



December 25th, 2011 at 4:35 PM ^

When you talk about matching Michigan's academic standards, I assume you are talking about standards for athletes.  The last time I saw average football SAT scores by university, where Michigan was near the top of the list, Michigan's scores were still so far below the average SAT score of the rest of the student body, it was laughable.

I think in certain sports you have to accept a considerably lower double standard if you want to remain competitive in terms of your recruits.

Ivy league football is a different world as indicated by the picture of an almost empty stadium.


December 25th, 2011 at 5:14 PM ^

Yes, I was talking about student athlete academic standards.  Your post brings up an interesting question, though.  I bet there is a similar difference in SAT scores for athletes compared to the rest of the students at Ivy League schools that you noticed at Michigan.

On a related note, we talk about oversigning giving teams a competitve advantage, but academic differences can sometimes play a role, too.  And it's not just about in-coming Freshmen. Juco athletes can play a role as well.  Part of Bob Stoops's early success at Oklahoma was due to bringing in a Juco qb.


December 25th, 2011 at 9:32 PM ^

I can't speak for any of the rest of the Ivy League, but at Cornell there is definitely a gap between recruited athletes and the general student body. Unfortunately, it's hard to sort out how much of that academic difference is real or just perceived; a fair number of people take themselves too seriously, and the notion that someone "only got in because they play sport X" makes athletes easy targets for your average, insecure Ivy-League nincompoop. The few football players I know, however, are all very serious about school. I would guess that the gap between ivy league athletes and and the general population is less significant than at a Michigan or an Iowa, for example, because the bar is already set higher to start with. 

Another thing to consider is that Ivy League doesn't have tutor networks or a big academic support staff for their athletes, benefits which are made available to football players at a lot of BCS schools. That means that much of Ivy League athletics admissions is self-selective, i.e. kids don't go to schools if they don't think they can handle the pressure. That kind of expectation just doesn't exist to the same extent in the rest of D1. 

These seem to me to be fairly large cultural differences, and I'm not sure a similar, AI-based model would work for the Big Ten.