Should there be a GPA requirement for student athletes?

School leaders have been disputing the effectiveness of academic requirements, with some arguing for the strengthening of GPA requirements and others wanting to do away with them completely

Rise of the Issue

Since the 1970s, the U.S. has been using GPA requirements for high school student athletes. For a few years now, school leaders have been disputing the effectiveness of academic requirements, with the resulting consequence of some schools strengthening their policies and others doing away with them altogether. 

While both sides believe education to be important for student athletes, their point of divergence is on whether GPA requirements are actually helping athletes do better in school, or if having too strict requirements disengages some of these students from education by keeping them away from opportunities that only sports can provide them. The other main issue with academic requirements for student athletes is whether it promotes fairness by asking student athletes to meet the same criteria as other students, or whether it is adding an unnecessary burden on these students’ shoulders. 

Issue Timeline


NCAA begins considering academic performance for eligibility

In 1965, the NCAA began associating academic performance with athletic eligibility.


States begin enacting policies to increase academic success

Despite policies differing in each state and school district, the 1970s saw states creating “No Pass, No Play” rules requiring students to have a certain grade point average to continue their sport.


NCAA enforces first GPA requirement for high school athletes

After the adoption of Proposition 48, student athletes were required to achieve a 2.0 grade-point average in their high school courses to be eligible.


NCAA raises GPA requirements

In August 2015, the NCAA raised the GPA requirement for student athletes from 2.0 to 2.3.

Micro Issues


Encouraging Education

Supporters of academic requirements for student athletes argue that education should be prioritized to athletic prowess, while opposers assert that encouraging athletic talent is precisely the reason why many students initially not interested in school are incentivized to graduate and go to college.


School Performance

While those against the GPA requirements argue that academic performance should not hinder talented individuals from getting access to college-level sports, supporters say that having good grades in school are essential in preparing student athletes for college success.



While opponents of the set academic standards emphasize the pressure for student athletes to both perform academically and athletically, those in favor believe that the standards ensure that student athletes are not given preferential treatment over other students.

Pro Arguments


GPA requirements can help students gain access to higher education.

With set requirements to play, students can acquire higher grades that will help them gain admittance into higher education and give them another avenue through which they could build a career.


An academic standard could provide student-athletes with a better education.

By demanding a certain level of academic success in school, athletes are forced to invest in their education.


It could better prepare students for the real world.

Student athletes will be better prepared for the real world as they must operate on a strict routine, prioritizing grades and athletics.


It ensures fairness within the student body.

Without GPA requirements, athletes are not held to the same academic standards as other students, creating a divide within the student body when athletes are given opportunities without earning any academic achievement.


Academic standards could improve student engagement.

Student athletes’ desire to participate in their sport can encourage attendance and participation in class.

Con Arguments


It puts young students under too much pressure.

The GPA requirements can put a lot of pressure on young students who are expected to perform highly both on the field and in the classroom.


Students might lose college opportunities.

Grade requirements makes many student athletes lose college opportunities and scholarships that they have no other means of securing.


It could encourage some students to drop out.

Many students’ sole incentive to do well in school is the promise to play their sport at a high level. Those who feel the requirements are out of reach no longer see a purpose in attending or participating in school.


Teams can be negatively impacted by the requirements.

When students do not meet GPA requirements, they are forced to leave the team, threatening the entire team’s performance and potentially putting other student athletes’ chance to succeed at risk.


Schools could lose funding from games if athletes cannot participate.

Public schools often reap large financial benefits from the athletics department, so raising standards on athletes puts that funding in jeopardy.