By Shelly Wilson
Shelly Wilson is an Assistant Editor at Athletic Management.
Athletic Management, 13.4, June/July 2001, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1304/roundworld.htm
From Bosnia to Mozambique, from basketball to golf, athletes on today’s top college teams include an amazing array of foreign athletes. Connecticut basketball standout Svetlana Abrosimova, Louisiana State track stars Leuroy Colquhoun and Alleyne Francique, and University of Denver skiers Pietro Bruggini and Cecilie Hagen Larsen are a sampling of those who have helped their schools win NCAA championships.
These and many other foreign athletes are bringing more talent to American college sports, helping increase the competition at all levels. As our economy goes global, it only makes sense that our sports do too.
But one step below, at the high school level, this trend is not being welcomed with open arms. While foreign exchange students have participated on high school sports in most states for decades, more and more foreign athletes are appearing on high school teams with athletics in mind, not educational and cultural interchange.
So while colleges are exploring how to boost international recruiting, high schools are trying to curtail it. Here’s a look at both stories, which at this point are separate. The question is: when will they clash?
Part I: Unwelcome Influx?
High schools grapple with the problem of foreign student-athletes giving schools an unfair advantage.
Over the past 18 months, several publications, including The Dayton Daily News, New Jersey’s Star-Ledger, and ESPN The Magazine, have conducted investigations into eligibility violations by foreign student-athletes. The reports tell of foreign high school student-athletes who had contracts with agents, others who were recruited by high school coaches, and some who were enrolled in U.S. high schools despite having already completed secondary educations in their native countries.
For example, in December 1999, the Star-Ledger reported on a case at Newark’s East Side High School where five foreign athletes were playing in the boys’ basketball program. After four of the players (three Nigerians and one Yugoslavian) were reported by the school’s athletic director for suspected eligibility violations, the paper discovered the five were living alone and unsupervised in an apartment in the city. The Star-Ledger also revealed that Head Coach Ed Leibowitz had paid several of the players’ bills.
Within a week of the story breaking, and with several government agencies investigating their cases, the four suspended athletes, plus a French player who was deemed eligible, had disappeared from the area. Jim Loper, Executive Director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, says that, last he heard, two were playing high school ball in Alabama and a third unsuccessfully attempted to play in Florida.
This past March, the Dayton Daily News unveiled a number of disturbing vignettes of high school athletics gone corrupt, including an account of Dejan “Dan” Dokovic of Croatia and Kristjan Makke of Estonia who played for the Quincy (Ill.) High School boys’ basketball team in 1998 and 1999. According to the Dayton paper, Dakovic, a 6’10” center who had played on a professional Croatian team, had indirect communication with the Quincy coach prior to his journey to the U.S. And Makke, a 6’11 center, showed reporters a contract he’d signed with a sports agent while at Quincy. Makke’s agent also offered up a letter the Quincy coach had sent him months before the player left for the high school.
And the influx of foreign student-athletes isn’t limited to large programs in city high schools. “We don’t have the numbers of a populated state,” says Evan Excell, Executive Director of the Utah State High School Athletic Association, “but we’ve experienced a big influx over the last few years. In 1996-97, of the 200 transfers we processed in this office, 14 of those were foreign athletes. The next year, 1997-98, out of 261 transfers, we had 16 foreign students. In 1998-99, we processed 200 and the number of foreign athletes jumped to 59. And then last year, out of 191 transfers, we had 64. This year to date, we’ve processed about 275 transfers of which 75 were foreign students.”
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), meanwhile, has been doing its own study of this issue. In November, it established the Task Force on Foreign Exchange and International Students to examine the prevalence of foreign athletes at the high school level as well as ways to combat growing eligibility abuses. The task force conducted surveys earlier this year and held its third meeting in late April.
The surveys, revealed that most athletic directors and state administrators see much value in the foreign exchange system. However, 11 state association respondents indicated that their state has gone to litigation over the eligibility of foreign exchange students. Nine reported that their associations have experienced political pressures to grant eligibility to exchange or international players, and 14 acknowledged having had problems with agents, entrepreneurs, and other individuals involved in the placement of such athletes in U.S. high school programs. In addition, 27 have seen one or more exchange or international players make a difference in the outcome of their state championships. Despite the above problems, 29 of 40 responding state associations feel that their state rules covering the eligibility of exchange and international students are stringent enough to satisfy their concerns. Which brings up the question: Is enforcement adequate?
Who’s Watching Who?
In many states, athletic directors are responsible for finding and reporting any eligibility violations with student-athletes. However, Dan Boyd, Associate Commissioner for Compliance, Administration, and Legal Affairs at the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), points out the difficulty even well-meaning athletic directors face when trying to determine the eligibility of a foreign student-athlete.
“In the two years I’ve been in this position, I’ve ruled on students from all over the world: Japan, Singapore, and Mali to Latvia, Uruguay, and Argentina,” Boyd says. “The transcripts are from a different culture and are written in a different language, and most of our athletic directors don’t have a clue as to what comes to them.
“In addition, many athletes are from educational systems that are completely different than those in the United States,” he explains. “Some of them are from 10-year programs: Ten years and you’re through. Some are from 11-year programs. But we have a rule in Florida that says once you complete the terminal grade in your home country, you’re no longer eligible. So unless our athletic directors or principals know a bit about the sending country’s education system, they are in a poor position to be determining eligibility.”
What’s more, many infractions are probably going unreported because it’s impractical to expect administrators to report themselves. “New Jersey schools are responsible for bringing suspicions to the state association and then also initially investigating the facts,” says John Finnegan, Director of Athletics and Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at Montclair Immaculate High School in New Jersey. “And that is the biggest problem, because schools don’t want to step up to the plate and say, ‘This is what we found out.’”
Many athletic directors are also reluctant to accuse other schools of violations. “It’s a time-consuming process for the athletic director, because even if you have what you feel is substantial evidence against another program, you could go down there and the state association may say it’s not,” says Finnegan. “So I think a lot of schools aren’t willing to confront programs they think are in violation.”
And while Florida may have a leg up on the problem through the appointment of Boyd, most states don’t have a full-time investigator on staff. “Our problem is we don’t have an investigative body—we don’t have staff able to spend the time, effort, and resources when there is a problem,” says Loper. “Our member schools rejected the idea of having an investigative body as part of the NJSIAA about 10 years ago, so we’re continuing to depend on our member schools to provide us with information.”
But Finnegan feels the status quo is not effective enough. “I think the NJSIAA needs to take a more active role in the enforcement of all its rules,” he says, “because if the membership doesn’t feel the rules are being enforced, what good are the rules?”
The easiest solution to stop foreign player abuses would be to simply ban these students from high school athletics. But according to David Fry, Executive Director of the Illinois High School Athletic Association and Chair of the NFHS Task Force, that’s precisely the type measure he doesn’t want to see taken. “That is overkill and would not be educationally or philosophically right, in my opinion, because the majority of students who come to this country are not athletic ringers or abusing the system,” he says. “We tend to impose bans when we don’t have a solution. Yet, in the long run, that doesn’t give us a functioning solution.”
In addition, the Washington state court of appeals ruled that such a ban is discriminatory. Eight years ago, the Washington State High School Athletic Association implemented a ban on foreign athletes competing on varsity teams.
But in a court case brought by a basketball player from Japan four years ago the state court said that prohibiting all foreign exchange students from varsity teams was discriminatory and that it was unrealistic to expect exchange students to come to the U.S. with their parents. As a result, Washington was forced to lift the ban, allowing legitimate foreign exchange students one year of eligibility. Other states that had implemented a similar rule have followed suit.
For many years, athletic administrators have relied on the outside agencies arranging foreign exchange programs to keep things on the up-and-up. According to Fry, most high schools have operated on the premise that if an athlete was attending their school through a program accepted by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), that student had been placed with their school at random.
However, the NFHS survey found that at least 10 state associations have witnessed eligibility problems among students here on CSIET-approved exchange programs. “One thing the task force is having to look at is the fact that those [placement] standards have been able to be skirted very easily by very enterprising people,” Fry explains. “Now the foreign exchange programs themselves are being misused and abused for athletic purposes.”
In fact, remedies the NFHS task force recommended at its April meeting begin with working more closely with the CSIET on a number of ventures. Among them, the task force proposed that:
• The NFHS develop informational materials on the eligibility and participation of foreign exchange students in U.S. programs that would be distributed by the CSIET to its constituents.
• The CSIET develop a form and procedure whereby state associations can report sports-related violations, incidents, and complaints about specific CSIET exchange programs.
• The NFHS develop a Student Athlete Data Sheet that all foreign athletes, exchange and international, would have to submit (in English) upon application to an exchange program or enrollment at a U.S. school. The completed form would then be filed at the school and state association, and the student would also have to provide translated and native language versions of any other required documentation.
But the task force is also looking at a bigger solution: to create national legislation to unify all state policies and procedures on the matter. To that end, the task force made three recommendations:
• That the NFHS develop investigative resources for state associations to utilize in the investigation of eligibility issues.
• Develop a national database, in cooperation with international governing sports bodies, that lists a host of information about the athletes, from their participation records to their contact with agents.
• Establishing a national rule to limit the eligibility and participation of multiple international students in the same high school.
Whether or not these proposals are the best solutions, Fry says it’s important to keep their mission in mind, which is to not let players, coaches, or agents pick and choose what team foreign student-athletes play for. “There must be objective and random placement of kids in schools,” Fry says. ““It’s nothing more than the same old standard eligibility problem we deal with daily when Susie leaves home to live with Aunt Charlotte because she wants to go to school in that district and play on that school’s team. We tell her no, and we should do the same to similarly inclined foreign athletes. If a youngster wants to come to this country, their name should go in a hat at the exchange program, a school and a host family should be drawn out, and the kid lands where he lands.
Curtailing the Problem
While the NFHS task force continues to study the problem, what can high school administrators do to pre-empt violations before they arise? “Athletic directors need to step up to the plate, have integrity, and find out why those kids are here,” says Excell. “Also, some kids from foreign countries are shopping for schools. Quite often another state association sends me a letter sent by a foreign student saying, ‘Hey. I’m 6’8”, I love basketball, and I’m looking for a place in the U.S. to play.’ That’s a red flag.”
“Athletic directors and principals need to be conscious that they may be being used by enterprising individuals,” says Fry. “They should not just blithely say, ‘Oh boy, we have a foreign exchange student. This kid is 6’10”. Isn’t that wonderful? We’ve got a player.’”
“And if you see a student that looks like an athlete who’s not here on a CSIET exchange program, that is a red flag, and you need to start a thorough investigation,” adds Excell.
Although it may be contrary to your inclination, administrators also advise that you scrutinize the behavior, practices, and motivations of your coaches. “Nobody wants to win more than a coach,” says Excell, “and unfortunately, sometimes that’s way up there on their list of priorities.”
“Before supporting your staff, you have to support the student body,” says Finnegan. “That’s who athletics should be for—those who come to the school for education and then enjoy some athletics. Anybody who’s coming in just for athletics should not be tolerated.”
sidebar 1: Looking at Causes
So why the boom of foreign athletes in high school programs? Many point to the influx of foreign athletes at the college level.
“I think it’s a college problem that has trickled down to the high schools,” says John Finnegan, Director of Athletics at Montclair Immaculate High School in New Jersey. “The colleges have allowed so many foreign athletes to displace so many U.S. citizens for scholarships that now people are trying to get a jump on it by coming here for high school to get looked at by colleges earlier.”
In some cases, says David Fry, Executive Director of the Illinois High School Athletic Association and Chair of the NFHS Task Force on Foreign Exchange and International Students, college coaches are involved in placing the foreign athletes on high school teams. “Collegiate coaches put these athletes in a position to develop their skills, create a solid connection between the player and the university, and in some cases even get them into this country for a year or two so they can meet the standards for resident tuition costs,” he says.
“I also think there is no question that there are high schools coaches who are looking to build reputations for themselves or their schools,” Fry continues. “They want success, and the price for that success is whatever it takes. So they’re not inhibited by ethics, morality, or even rules. They’ll do what they can to do get away with it.
And as the Dayton Daily News uncovered in a series of articles published in March, there are increasing numbers of agents scouring foreign courts and fields for promising talent. They usher the athlete through high school and college hoping to get a piece of the action on his or her pro career.
“I think there are entrepreneurs both in this country and abroad who are exploiting and using kids,” says Fry. “They do it in the name of benefiting or helping kids: ‘This poor youngster from poor economic conditions. I just want to be a good guy and help him out.’”
Another factor easing a foreign athlete’s ability to circumvent the rules, says Fry, is our gullibility as a nation. “We in America like to think that we’re the good guys,” he says. “We presume that virtually anybody from anywhere else in the world has more need than we do. And we believe we’re being benevolent when we receive a student into our schools from another country with open arms. I don’t want to see that helping attitude fundamentally change, but I do believe that we must stop assuming that nobody would ever improperly take advantage of us here. Schools can’t just swallow each foreign athlete’s story hook, line, and sinker.”
Part II: Exploring New Worlds
Knowing how to recruit internationally is becoming a must for university programs.
At the university level, the presence of foreign athletes on teams is common, acceptable, and even desirable. While there are detractors who argue that scholarship dollars and playing opportunities should be reserved for U.S. students—and that colleges with foreign players are training Olympians for other countries—many programs continue to look overseas for talent.
One of the standard arguments against rampant use of foreign athletes is that the make up of a college athletic program should reflect the make up of the university’s student-body as a whole. In fact, this argument, coupled with concerns about reductions in state funding, prompted University of Minnesota Women’s Athletic Director Chris Voelz, to place a cap in 1990 on the number of female foreign student-athletes who could be given athletic scholarships at the school.
“My intention in the ’90s was for us not to become the University of Budapest at Minnesota,” says Voelz. “We’re a state-supported institution. We also receive state monies for women’s athletics, so we had a particular responsibility to the people of Minnesota. We put in a guideline that said let’s not go past the percentage of foreigners on our campus—let’s not be disproportionate to the rest of the campus. And I think it has worked out well.”
Although Voelz has continued to enforce these guidelines at Minnesota, they have not been followed by other institutions. Instead, most athletic directors leave foreign recruiting to the discretion of their coaches, pointing to their universities’ missions as the basis for the decision.
“This university’s mission is to be a nationally renowned university,” says Lew Perkins, Director of Athletics at the University of Connecticut, which along with Abrosimova, has four foreign student-athletes on its national title-winning men’s soccer team. “The administration works really hard to have a diversified community, both academically and professionally, so we have faculty and students from all over the world. If our mission and role were different, then maybe recruiting foreign athletes would be a more critical concern.”
“If we were talking about an intramural or campus rec program, the idea would be to compete, have fun, and play lots of people,” adds Jim Livengood, Director of Athletics at the University of Arizona, where 29 foreign athletes compete on nine of the school’s teams. “But that doesn’t necessarily reflect the goals of intercollegiate athletics. If we’re going to field a team, I think we have a responsibility to our coaches, student-athletes, and university to be the very best we can.”
Other advocates argue that without overseas recruiting, there’s not enough talent to go around. “There are so many more schools now and so many more teams that you’re looking at a watered down talent pool in America,” says Allison Greene, Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Old Dominion University, whose 2001 roster included three foreign athletes. “So why place borders on the best talent in the world? Is the kid ranked 700th in the U.S. more deserving of a scholarship than one of the top 10 players coming out of Europe?”
“There’s so much pressure on schools and teams to win, that as a coach, you want to go out and recruit the very best player available,” says Greg Allen, Head Women’s Golf Coach at the University of Arizona. “And if that player happens to be from overseas, then you try to grab that player.”
Old Dominion Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach Darryl Cummings agrees, adding that integrating foreign athletes into some U.S. sports improves the talent pool stateside. “When you talk about improving the development of American tennis players, the depth of play is much better in college tennis than ever before because of foreign recruiting,” he says. “The effect is no different than what has happened to basketball abroad. Overseas, there are always two or three Americans playing on a foreign team. And there’s no doubt that has made those countries better at basketball.
“That’s happening in the reverse here,” he continues. “In tennis, we’re bringing international players to the U.S. and it’s making our game better.”
The Pros and Cons
Like any other new venture, recruiting foreign players has its advantages and drawbacks. The number-one advantage is that there is less competition for recruits. In basketball, for instance, only 30 to 50 U.S. schools venture overseas to scout tournaments.
Another plus, particularly for less notable U.S. athletic programs, is that most foreign players can’t distinguish a program with a storied history of success from a young upstart. “Kids over there don’t necessarily know the difference between the University of Tennessee and a Division III school,” explains Greene. “They just know it’s a school in America. So there’s no hierarchy—you’re not necessarily competing against established names and traditions.”
One of the most appealing advantages of foreign recruiting is that a program outside of the top 20 can sign a blue-chip quality athlete who can become an immediate impact player. “If I want the top American kid, I’m going to have to spend 100 percent of my time for a 10 percent chance that they’ll sign with me,” says Cummings. “Whereas a tennis program like Stanford has to spend only 50 percent of its time to have an 80 percent chance.”
According to coaches, another huge advantage is the caliber of student-athlete a team can get. “The type of kid who is willing to come across the ocean to play is usually one of your more outgoing and mature kids,” explains Greene. “So you’re looking at a more motivated individual with a higher work ethic. That’s not just because they’re international, it’s because that’s the type of personality who would come that far.
“And they have a much stronger focus on their education,” she continues. “They wouldn’t dream of missing a class, for example, because they consider that an insult to the coach who gave them a scholarship and the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Cummings has also found that most foreign players are more interested in the team and staff as opposed to the materialistic issues. “You never talk about ‘The Deal’ with international students—what the scholarship dollars are going to be, whether I’m going to put them in Nike or Reebok clothes, what kind of player I’m going to make them,” he says. “This is particularly true among South American and some European athletes. They’re more interested in how the team is doing, your plans for the team, who you are and what you’re about, your family, and how long you’ve been at the school.”
But recruiting foreign student-athletes offers pitfalls along with benefits. For instance, almost all foreign students experience some degree of culture shock upon arriving on campus. This means your coaching staff will have to devote more time to these foreign recruits until they adjust to their new surroundings.
Old Dominion coaches also warn of possible criticism from opposing players and fans. “In 1992, our field hockey team won the national championship,” recalls Greene. “Upon losing, the opposing team ran around the field in T-shirts reading, ‘Made In The USA’. It was a dig because we had a couple of international kids on our team. That was nine years ago, but I’ll never forget it. And at the Final Four in 1997, our basketball player Clarisse Machanguana saw a sign directed at her reading, ‘Get back on the boat to Africa.’”
The cost to recruit internationally is another factor to consider. This can be a pro or a con depending on the sport and particular situation. For some sports, like swimming, golf, and tennis, recruiting internationally can be a budget saver because coaches can rely largely on player rankings or times to evaluate talent.
“In my sport, it’s much less costly,” says Cummings. “To recruit in the U.S., I’d have to travel to three or four tournaments. Plus, I’d have to bring an American player in on an official visit, and that adds up. But with my foreign players, it was nothing but phone calls.”
In other sports, like soccer and particularly basketball, coaches can’t rely on stats. They must see the players in action. “For us it’s more costly,” says Greene, “because we don’t think you can do it the quick way. You can look at a tape, but you wouldn’t give an American player a full scholarship based on one film and statistics, so you end up spending money on a flight overseas to watch the European Championships or the African Games. And you do that because you don’t want to bring in a role player from halfway around the world who never gets off your bench. That’s not a happy situation.”
Another important cost to remember is that of scholarships. “If you’re at a state university, the scholarships may cost more money if you’re recruiting a player from overseas, because of tuition,” says Allen. “Using the University of Arizona as an example, tuition and fees for an in-state student are around $2,300. For an out-of-state student it’s about $9,800, and for an international student, it costs $10,500.”
Those interested in entering the international recruiting scene will be relieved to know that it’s not as daunting a process as you might believe. “Coaches shouldn’t be intimidated,” says Greene. “To get experience, they have to get some bumps and bruises. But that’s no different than when they started as a recruiter.”
Just as in the U.S., networking is of critical importance. “My best contact is the national team coach of Portugal,” Greene says. “I can call him and say, ‘There is a 16-year-old player I’m interested in, can you help me get her name, number, and address?’ And he’s able to pick up the phone and call that player’s team coach.
“And from his experience, he’s also able to reassure them,” she continues. “He can say, ‘Look. I’ve had two of my girls go to Old Dominion and they came back in much better condition—they were lifting and they were at a different level of elite athleticism than we can achieve in Portugal. It’s not a bad thing for them to go overseas.’”
If budgets won’t allow your coaches to travel overseas to network, another option is for them to use camps, clinics, and tournaments to draw foreign coaches to your campus. For example, Cummings has experienced great success with hosting amateur events. These tournaments have attracted international coaches to Old Dominion, allowing Cummings to create contact networks without ever leaving Virginia.
Another important aspect of being a successful international recruiter involves being attuned to other cultures. This starts with language. Greene feels that being fluent in French and Portuguese has helped her immensely by not only allowing her direct communication with players and coaches, but also in the impression it leaves.
Cummings has learned through his dealings in South America that to pull out a day planner in the early stages of recruiting and pencil that athlete in for lunch from noon to 1 p.m. is insulting. “Because, if we’re friends and we’re getting to know each other,” he explains, “[South Americans] don’t put a time limit on that.”
Being informed about recent political events can also be critical. “Don’t recruit a kid from Estonia and call her Russian,” says Greene. “They burned every book in their libraries written in Russian when they achieved independence from the Soviet Union. You have to do your homework so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot.”
Another tip is to be patient and keep the contacts informed. “My staff markets the program by using an e-mail distribution system,” says Cummings. “We send out messages to contacts saying, ‘Hello, we just want to update you on our tennis program.’ That goes to about 800 people—every international coach I’ve met, players, alumni, and contributors. And the message refers them back to our Web page. That’s been a necessity to keep people informed.”
Adjusting to America
If a coach has done all of his or her homework, any new foreign athletes will bring enough talent to succeed. But for some recruits, it takes more than that to be successful student-athletes. The biggest obstacle they face usually isn’t winning games, but rather adjusting to a new environment.
“Here, the athletic department works very closely with the university,” says Livengood, “and the university really does a good job of helping foreign students adjust to the culture in town and on campus. There are counseling centers, advising centers, and various groups made up of nationalities from across the world. We make sure that our student-athletes are aware of those opportunities.”
Some coaches also invite other foreign students to meet the athlete for coffee, identify local families from the player’s home country, find an ethnic restaurant in the area, or point out a town church of the player’s denomination. Small gestures like these can go far in making the athletes feel less of a cultural anomaly.
Athletic directors can also encourage coaches, when applicable, to recruit in twos. “That’s something I try to do, if the talent is available,” says Greene. “They don’t necessarily have to be from the same country, but if they speak the same language, they always have each other.”
Greene has also discovered how important it is to prepare existing athletes for a foreign recruit’s arrival. “You have to make sure your team and fans are informed,” she says, “because they may inadvertently say something offensive. For example, we had a player from Africa and someone asked her, ‘So, when you walk to school, are you walking with giraffes and lions?’ People would laugh, but it wasn’t funny to that player.”
To make sure teammates are prepared to accept a foreign player and all her cultural practices, Greene and the Old Dominion staff go so far as to hold team meetings on incoming recruits. “When a Muslim player came in, we explained to the team, ‘Look, she does a few things that are different than what you’re used to seeing. She prays five times a day by putting on a white robe and kneeling on a rug on the floor which has a compass that points to Mecca. And it will look like this.
So when she does it, you won’t laugh or wonder what she’s doing, or make a comment about why she’s wearing a nightgown.
“‘And, by the way, during a certain period she observes Ramadan, which means she doesn’t eat between sun up and sun down. We’re going to have practices in the evening so she can actually have water. If we practiced in the afternoon, the sun’s not down yet and she wouldn’t be able to drink.’ So when she got here, the athletes weren’t complaining, ‘Ugh, why do we have to practice from 7 to 9 p.m? I hate having to practice late.’ The kids knew why, and they didn’t complain or make a comment to make her feel it was her fault.”
While programs continue to disagree on how much foreign talent should be relied upon in college athletics, the presence of individuals of different backgrounds, say coaches, can dramatically enhance all the players’ experiences. “The impact these players can have on your team is invaluable in terms of diversity,” says Greene. “Our athletes are entering the workplace and they’re seeing globalization everywhere. And to have people on your team that are diverse in more than just race—to have people with different languages, backgrounds, religions, and cultures—makes our players and coaches more open minded. And I think that definitely carries over into their non-basketball lives.”
sidebar 2: Has He Graduated?
Bevis for Studentereksamen. Matayom VI. Bachillerato Especializado.
These terms are foreign to most athletic directors, as well they should be. They are the equivalent of a high school diploma in Denmark, Thailand, and Argentina, respectively. But with new amateurism rules in place in NCAA Division II and being considered in Divisions I and III, athletic administrators may soon be seeing, if not hearing, these and similar terms around their offices more often.
The recently passed amateurism rules in Division II call for student-athletes to lose one season of collegiate eligibility for each calendar year of participation in outside competition following their expected high school graduation date. This should make it easier for coaches to recruit foreign student-athletes, since they will no longer be concerned with determining whether such athletes had competed professionally or not. But it also means that coaches and administrators need to be well versed on secondary education in foreign countries.
To help, the NCAA Foreign Student Records Committee has released its initial list of expected secondary school graduation dates for selected foreign countries. A total of 40 countries are included on the initial list, which shows the name of the document that serves as the graduation certificate, the term describing secondary education, and the number of years expected to finish secondary education. The chart (which was published in the April 23 edition of the NCAA News and can be found through the publication’s Web site at www.ncaa.org/news) also includes a template to help users figure a prospective student-athlete’s expected date of graduation.
The committee is using the number of submissions to the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse to determine the order of countries to be studied. More than 150 countries and 500 educational certificates are expected to be listed by February 2002.
Although the chart was developed for NCAA schools, high school athletic directors may find it useful for checking the eligibility of their own international student-athletes, as many states disallow foreign athletes to compete in high school athletics if they have already graduated from a secondary school in their native country.