Beginning next school year, all student athletes in Baltimore City will be required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average to play on an interscholastic sports team.
The city school board unanimously approved the requirement Tuesday, following a debate about whether expectations were too low for city school athletes. The 2.0 is the first minimum GPA set in the district and will replace a policy that only requires that athletes not have more than one failing grade.
City school officials originally proposed to phase in the requirement to allow athletes to maintain a 1.75 GPA, or a C-, in the 2017-2018 school year, and a 2.0, or C, in 2018-2019.
The "staggered implementation" of the requirement drew backlash from critics who said the 1.75 was unacceptably low – most districts have a 2.0 minimum – and would not position student athletes to meet the 2.3 GPA required by the NCAA to play sports and receive scholarships.
The new policy would also maintain the requirement that athletes have no more than one failing grade, which is the current policy that will remain in place this school year. That policy will remain in place for only middle school students.
It also will require schools to provide more academic support for student athletes and more closely track their performance.
City Councilman Brandon Scott, who testified against the original proposal at a recent school board meeting, said he was glad to see school officials accelerate the 2.0 requirement, but he wanted it to be in place this year.
"I'm disappointed that we're not doing anything this year," Scott said. "I understand the concerns about the school year already started, we have to expect more from our kids."
The city is one of the last districts in the state to set a minimum GPA.