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10/20/2013 6:00:00 AM
Academic eligibility rules differ from school to school
Board promises to review policies
Bruce Ricca
Bruce Ricca

KINGMAN - Bruce Ricca couldn't help but climb on his soapbox about student athletic eligibility during a recent meeting of the Kingman Unified School Board

Ricca, a board member, chided the district for offering different eligibility requirements at the high schools and middle schools. Ricca said times have changed since he was a student, but those changes haven't always been for the best.

"I'm an old-timer and I believe we are falling behind in the U.S. because we're too lenient on everything," said Ricca. "When I went to school, I wasn't an 'A' student but I loved sports. And you had to pass every class that week if you wanted to participate in sports. There was no warning and you didn't get a week to think about it."

During the meeting, staff from Lee Williams High School, White Cliffs Middle School and Black Mountain Middle School described their policies and feelings about the Arizona Board of Education's "No Pass, No Play" rule.

After discussion, the school board agreed to form a committee to address the issue, with Ricca as the chairman, and bring the information back at the next meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the district office, 3033 MacDonald Ave.

At Kingman High School and Lee Williams High School, student athlete grades are checked on Thursdays, and if the student has an "F" in any class, he or she is placed on warning status. The student is eligible to practice and participate in athletic competitions the following week.

On the second Thursday, another eligibility check is done and if the student is still failing, he or she can practice the next week but is not allowed to play for one week.

"I asked why the high schools have a warning week," said Cory Williams, athletic director at Lee Williams High School. "It gives the kids a chance to continue to play and it gives us an opportunity to communicate with their parents. Also, some teachers were using ineligibility as a classroom management tool."

At Kingman Middle School and White Cliffs Middle School, the story is a little different. Athletes must be passing all classes to play. Grades are checked on Fridays at White Cliffs and Sundays at Kingman Middle School. If the student has an "F" in any class, the athlete is ineligible to compete the next week, but may continue to practice.

"We do not have a warning week at the two middle schools in Kingman," said Cliff Angle, principal of White Cliffs. "All the students know we have a 'No Pass, No Play' policy."

Black Mountain Middle School requires that athletes pass all classes with a "C to play, and grades are checked on Sundays. If the student has a "D" or "F" in any class, the athlete is placed on warning status for the week. If the athlete has less than a "C" when grades are checked the next Sunday, the student cannot compete, but if the grade is a "D," the athlete can practice. Students with an "F" cannot practice or play.

"Some people think the 'No Pass, No Play' guidelines are a bit harsh, so we decided to waiver those students who struggle," said Debra Kelly, athletic director for Black Mountain. "We're looking at putting things in place for students to be more successful."

Not every board member totally agreed with Ricca's hard-line approach to the subject. Board member Jeri Brock noted some students may receive an athletic scholarship but have difficulty making good grades. Brock said she liked the idea of Black Mountain's waiver for those students who are having academic difficulties but are doing well athletically.

Board member Laurie Barthlow agreed, saying a parent whose children are high-achievers recently approached her with concerns about a game Kingman Middle School forfeited because it didn't have enough eligible players. The parent said a harsh eligibility policy could drive away students who want to play but can't earn a "C" grade.

"I'm surprised the schools are all over the place with this policy," said Barthlow. "I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Ricca, but does a 'C' mean the same as it did years ago? I would want to discuss this issue more before we eliminate kids from playing sports."

Board member Debbie Frances said she would prefer to see all the schools use a warning week. Frances said school is tougher than it was years ago and each student-athlete having difficulties should be evaluated and assisted as much as possible.

"There could be a reason that is beyond their control because it's a family issue," said Frances. "Some of these kids have to work to help their families survive. I would like to see a warning week, too."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Article comment by: GV Bobcat

What happens when the standards are lowered to allow those who can not make it academically to be allowed to move on in the sports venue? The ones who actually do make it to the pros wind up making a ton of money then blowing it all on partying, drugs and other stupid things. This is ecause they never learned how to function as a normal person. We see far too much of this with today's pro athletes. Unfortunately many are role models to the younger ones. What do they do when their career and money are gone? Some wind up on the unemployment and welfare roles. This shouldn't have to be. Academics first sport only afterward.

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

Participating in school athletics is a privilege and parents who want their kids to do so should have the expectation that their child mains no less than a C grade in all classes.
Our son was quarterback and chose to take six solid subjects at our objection, he was told if he did so he would have to maintain a C in All of them. He got a D and His Dad benched him for two weeks much to the astonishment of coach Casson and athletic director Greg Parker.
After that two weeks ended, we as parents did not have to take further action for our son to maintain the Cs and better.
Sometimes Tough Love goes a lot further than cuddling!!

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Resident

I have to agree with Mr. Ricca's point of view. He is going to step on some toes of individuals that run the sports programs at both of the high schools involved and they aren't going to be happy. This nonsense has been going on for years and nothing will change unless the board makes it happen!!

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Article comment by: KMS Parent

My son played football last year for KMS and was ineligible due to grades. Instead of practice, they held a mandatory study hall for the entire team. He learned his lesson by having to sit out too. He played this year and remained eligible the entire season. In fact, he noted how disappointed he was in the team members who didn't bring their grades up week after week. They lost a huge portion of their team due to all the ineligible players. My son went from not really caring or understanding the importance of school first (Bs, Cs and Ds) to making honor roll (As and Bs) by not being permitted to play when he wasn't passing. This has led to us discussing what it will be like when he plays in high school. We have discussed the possibility of him being scouted and offered scholarships, but we've emphasized that they aren't going to want a player who can't perform in the classroom as well as on the field.
I think No Pass/No Play is a great rule and I agree that it should be universally applied across the district.

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned Parent

I have seen many times where a student can go from an F to an A in a day and visa versa. Therefore, the grading system needs to be more consistent and realistic. One bad test should not define a student's skills and abilities or cause them to be ineligible. We need to do what is in the best interests of the student. As adults, we tend to lose sight of the importance of what is best for the students. These are different times and as a parent of teenagers, I have learned that you can't use your childhood as a basis to implement discipline.

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: What are the Priorities???

No- Pass - No Play is the way it should be. Why do we expect students to see education as important if we as adults do not show them it is important. The district keeps repeating that academics and student growth should be the priority. Well, how much growth is going to happen when students are allowed to participate in athletics or after school clubs if they are failing.

Wake up - set the expectations high and the students will rise to the occasion. Lets quite dumbing down our students. I hope the board will make a decision that will benefit our students and not make excuses again. D's and F's are not acceptable.

I hope we see the board decide that success for students is more important. Those that really want to play will put in the hard work necessary to play.

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: just a fact

I agree with Bruce Ricca. Being on the board, you are in a position to make changes. Do it.

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

Failing a class should mean no play or practice, no warning week. The players themselves, coaches, and teachers should know if the student is having problems and work to solve them before it gets that far. D should mean no play but can practice.

Waivers? Come on! They are there to learn first and other activities come second. Athletic scholarships? They are already talking about those in middle school? There's part of the problem, right there. Oh, they're an "athelete", so lets coddle them and give them all the extra help they need.

Yeah, that's what happens in the real world when they become adults, right?

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned for the future

"Some people think the 'No Pass, No Play' guidelines are a bit harsh, so we decided to waiver those students who struggle," said Debra Kelly, athletic director for Black Mountain.
Many of those who 'struggle' are those who are given no incentive to work hard and achieve. The bar is continuously lowered to a point where they can just stride over it while barely lifting their feet.
While both academics and athletics are important, academics are, by far, the more important. And, for most people, academics are what will determine how successful, or not, they will be as employable, productive adults.
"We're looking at putting things in place for students to be more successful."
Whether by accident or by design, what you are actually doing is preparing future adults to always be underachievers. ...Future adults who will expect to be cared for by government largesse (via their working/tax-paying fellow citizens) .

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

On what basis does Debbie Frances state school is tougher than it used to be. I suppose the answer will be, we didn't have computer technology to learn.

In Bruce's day, school was school. There to learn, respect the teachers and stick to our studies, we didn't have the unnecessary side junk we have today. No sex ed classes, in lower grades, we could however diagram a sentence, had legible handwriting and knew where Maine is on a map. Had computers been with us, we would have learned them well also. And I don't recall higher math being that easy frankly. I do recall
learning about the Constitution and Presidents and student flights to Phoenix to see it in action in our state.

I'm w/Bruce all the way. The real world is not lenient. Deal with it. Want to play, keep your grades up or you don't participate. What better goal to make you work harder.

A side note. Pre-computer, Bell invented the telephone, Browning the semi-auto shotgun, Carrier the Air Conditioner, Ford the moving assembly line, Goodyear - vulcanized rubber, Morse the telegraph and Morse code, Wright Brothers the airplane,etc...not too shabby actually, all without googling.

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: Baloney ...

Baloney on giving failing students a week for the staff to reach teachers. Students grades are available ONLINE through their schools- their up to date grades are clearly posted- and if they have an F they should NOT PRACTICE NOR PLAY. Our country is producing a generation of self involved, non challenged air heads from being coddled so much. I agree with Bruce- lower the hammer on bad grades. Give students a desire to excel in something besides bumping heads on a playing field.

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Flanigan

I think we are doing a disservice to these kids by making excuses for their low grades. In 1 to 4 years every one of these kids will be an adult. As an adult no one cares why you are not performing to standard. You don't do your job, you're fired. Passing classes is the job of a high school student. Sports is secondary. The excuses as to why these students cannot pass is the reason that the U.S. is behind in education. Does anyone believe that kids in the countries that are ahead of us don't have a rough time at home? Most of them have to pay for their school and the transportation to get there. Stop making excuses and teach these kids to be responsible for their lack of effort. I say no pass with a C or better, no play.

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Beth Deiter

I fully agree with Mr. Ricca. No pass, no play is how it was when I was in school and how it should remain. Continuing to lower the bar isn't going to help children succeed, nor teach them about working hard for what you want in life. Accountability is something that society is losing. My kids are in school is their JOB!!!! My oldest daughter held a part time job while attending high school at KHS and it was expected that her grades stayed equal to or above a 3.00 average and that she remained responsible at her job also. I am not a hard parent, I am a parent that is giving my children skills to succeed in school and life!!!

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Regan

"Board member Debbie Frances said she would prefer to see all the schools use a warning week. Frances said school is tougher than it was years ago and each student-athlete having difficulties should be evaluated and assisted as much as possible."
Where in the world do you live, the schools now days are no where near the same when I was in school, they would teach you morals respects and ethics along with your classes, and if you did not follow the rules most of the time you got the paddle which I really believe they need to bring and get control over these kids, meaning when kids are having sex in the class at black mountain or at Kingman high a young lady gets forced to have sex, and you call this tougher? the kids are out of control !!! wake up school board!!!!!

Posted: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Article comment by: Thai Mai Shu

The schools should also communicate on a weekly basis with the local court system and see which of their students have been convicted of anything.

It happens more frequently than they know.

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