Big Apple Basketball (BAB) hosted over 80 student-athletes, parents, coaches, and guidance counselors on Tuesday, April 19 at the School of the Future in New York City for its inaugural Academic Eligibility Seminar. The two-hour event gave attendees a review of the new NCAA eligibility rules that are scheduled to go into effect on August 1, 2016.

The seminar, which was held by NCAA representative Franklin Smith and St. John’s University Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Doug Trani, provided crucial information for prospective collegiate athletes looking to meet the updated eligibility criteria. The new initial-eligibility requirements are designed to create a higher academic standard for freshmen in order to be deemed eligible to play. This new standard will be higher than what will be necessary to receive aid and be allowed to practice, ultimately creating an academic redshirt year.

Among the topics of discussion at the seminar were grades. In order for student-athletes to be eligible for competition, they will have to achieve at least a 2.3 GPA and an increased sliding scale. Prospective collegiate athletes must also successfully complete 10 of the 16 total required courses before the start of their senior year of high school, of which seven of the 10 completed courses must be in English, math and science.

Those student-athletes who reach the current minimum initial-eligibility standard will be eligible for sports related financial aid during the first year and practice during their first regular academic term. If the student-athlete passes nine semester/eight quarter hours, they could earn practice privileges during the second semester.

“I applaud the parents and students who came out to the BAB seminar,” says Smith. “The turnout was great and the audience participation showed the importance of seminars such as these. This is something that will grow every year. I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The new rules discussed will apply to all collegiate sports.

“I was impressed that the questions did not just come from parents but many of them came from the students,” recalls Trani. “In addition, many of the questions were related to transfer student eligibility and not just initial eligibility, which is usually not common.

Eligibility is an issue that annually affects prospective college student-athletes throughout the country. Due to being misinformed and unaware of the pre-requisites, every year numerous players get declared ineligible, including high-profile athletes.

“I had college scholarship offers coming out of high school, but was deemed academically ineligible after my senior year because of grades and SAT,” said Jaja Bey, who now works with kids at New Visions High School. Fortunately for Bey he was able to spend a year at prep school to improve his grades and accept an athletic scholarship to Long Island University.

“Now I stress to the kids the importance of balancing schoolwork and basketball,” he added. “With the new rules these kids don’t have room for error the way that I did. This seminar was an opportunity for me to get an understanding of the new rules and allowed me to bring some of my student-athletes, so they could have a first-hand experience and listen to the NCAA representatives.”

And as for the student-athletes themselves, it helped cover some misconceptions that they may had coming in.

“My mom found out about the seminar online because I was looking for information on the recruiting process and eligibility information,” said Kassielle Pena.

Pena, a junior at Brooklyn Tech, is a three sport student-athlete in basketball, softball, and football, and hopes to get a scholarship to play softball in college.

“The Academic Eligibility Seminar was very informative, and it answered a lot of questions I had,” she adds. “It really stressed that it’s just not about being good on the court or on the field.”

Founded in 1999, Big Apple Basketball provides exposure and assists young people in their athletic, educational, professional, and life skill development, while also providing family and community focused programs and events.

The eligibility seminar, though, was conducted for the very first time this year and judging by the strong reception it could very well become an annual staple of the program moving forward.

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