Special admits: a fast pass to State

by Jose Gutierrez, Staff Columnist

There’s no doubt student athletes receive a considerable amount of assistance to ensure their academic success at San Diego State. The Student Athlete Support Services program at SDSU includes tutoring, academic advising and even a learning specialist, all meant to provide academic support to athletes. But there should be limits to how far a school can bend its rules for student athletes, especially when it comes to admissions.

It’s certainly understandable that student athletes receive extra support from the school to accommodate for athletics. In addition to the schoolwork every student is faced with, student athletes devote countless hours to athletics, which many consider a full-time job. This, coupled with the fact that student athletes may have to miss classes when traveling for games, creates a hectic schedule that barely leaves any time for sleeping.

I’m not without sympathy to student athletes who bring national recognition to SDSU. These special programs act as an equalizer to make up for the times athletics interrupt a regular education. However, student athletes are on an unfair playing field when it comes to admissions.

Certain schools, such as SDSU, have allotted spaces for special admits. For California State Universities, special admits are students who don’t meet the 2900 eligibility index and/or don’t fulfill the A-G class requirements. To calculate this eligibility index, multiply a student’s high school GPA by 800 and then add his or her SAT score.

There were nine special admits given to the fall 2013 admitted students, all of whom were exclusively student athletes.

This number is low compared to other schools, but there shouldn’t be any special admits considering SDSU is an impacted school. I say this because nearly all of the majors at SDSU are impacted, meaning there are far more applicants than there are spaces available.

In 2013, there were 74,458 applicants to SDSU. In this pool of applicants, surely several hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants were rejected even though they met SDSU’s criteria. But nine, who for some reason or another didn’t meet the criteria, were accepted.

“You can’t run a premier athletic program unless you have some flexibility with the admission,” Vice President of SDSU Enrollment Management Sandra Cook said.

Surely student athletes are prized assets. Last year, the men’s basketball team brought national recognition to SDSU after making the Sweet 16. For 2013, the total revenue from the athletics department was $42 million proving that athletes undoubtedly brought money and fame to the campus.

But what does it say when the campus bends its rules to accept a potential star athlete? It says it’s willing to treat student athletes differently than non-athletes. More so, it says a student athlete is more valuable than other students. It said that nine times.

SDSU isn’t alone when it comes to special admits. In early 2010, The Associated Press reviewed admissions data of 120 schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

At least 27 schools were identified where student athletes were 10 times more likely to benefit from special admission programs.

SDSU deserves some recognition for the low use of special admits, but since special admits are not required to be given exclusively to student athletes, they shouldn’t be.

Yes, there are cases where a technicality may cause the ineligibility of an applicant, but if SDSU is going to use special admits, it should do so equally with the rest of the students. The talent a student can bring comes in more than just the athletics department.

But again, given that the number is so low, SDSU should try to go at least one year without any special admits and see how it fares out. It probably won’t result in any major game losses and the school would be setting a higher standard for itself by holding all students to the same level. It would even out the playing