Confusion over timing of student-athlete minimums leaves athletic departments ‘baffled’

Confusion is brewing in school athletics over the timing of the “minimum academic requirements,” which restrict student-athletes from competing if they fail to achieve certain grades.

Without receiving accurate information from the authorities, students who were committed to athletics were suddenly put at a disadvantage in the competition for advancement.

According to a Yonhap news report on Sept. 9, the Ministry of Education recently sent a letter titled “Notice on the Scheduled Application of the Revised Minimum Academic Requirements for Student Athletes in 2024” to each provincial education office, stating that the system will be applied from the grades of the second semester of this year.

This is in response to the implementation rules of the School Sports Promotion Act, which specify the start date of the system as “March 24 next year.

According to the implementing rules, the minimum grade system restricts athletes from competing in the second semester if their grades do not meet the standard in the first semester, and in the first semester if they do not meet the standard in the second semester.

Students who fail to meet the minimum academic standards in the second semester will be ineligible to compete in most domestic competitions for the first half of next year.

While the move was expected, some student-athletes and parents are up in arms. They claim that they were informed by their schools and education departments that their participation in the second semester of 2024 would be based on their grades in the first semester.

The confusion stems from the fact that there was no further explanation of the policy beyond the wording in the rule that it would begin on March 24, 2024.

In the absence of an official announcement from the Ministry of Education, some in the field have interpreted the proposal as a policy direction to allow student-athletes to play in the second semester based on their grades in the first semester of 2024 after the effective date of the revised minimum academic requirements.

However, as written, it will be a “suspension,” not a “grade,” starting in March 2024.

With some schools already holding final exams, student-athletes who started the semester without the minimum requirements in mind have been left holding the bag.

Middle school athletes are particularly hard hit, as they have no way to make up for lost competition time.

For high school students, even if their grades fall short of the standard, the restriction is lifted by completing an additional Basic Education Guarantee Program, which is a supplemental education.

“We thought it was the last semester before the minimum education requirement was fully implemented, so we focused more on sports,” said A, a member of the soccer team at a middle school in Seoul. “We were told that the midterm and final grades would determine whether or not we could compete in the next semester’s tournament from March next year, but suddenly we received a notice like this, which made us feel embarrassed.”

Mr. A said, “Especially for secondary school players, next year’s season is from March to August. There are all important competitions and leagues.” “I heard that other schools urgently sent out text notices to parents as it is an important issue for their career and future.”

An official from the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said, “After this revision, scholars from each city’s education office have been verbally conveying their position to the Ministry of Education to clarify the timing of the implementation, but we have not been officially informed of the timing, and now we have received an official letter.”

“Many parents have complained, and we tried to see if we could resolve the issue by interpreting the official letter, but since it says ‘all 17 provincial education offices will apply the same,’ we had no choice but to guide them,” the official added.

The Ministry of Education’s position is that the correct interpretation of the law is to impose a suspension effective March 24 of next year.

In fact, Article 6.2 of the Enforcement Rule in question describes the penalties for non-compliance with the minimum education requirement. Therefore, the correct interpretation is to align the implementation date with the ban.

However, it is hard to avoid the criticism that the ministry formalized this too late and increased confusion in the field.

The ministry also stated that it had shared the possibility of the restrictions being applied to competitions starting next year with school boards on several occasions, but as a result, it appears to have been inconsistent in its communication with the field.

Ministry officials said they are actively looking for ways to help athletes who will be affected by the controversial application of the minimum education requirement through administration.

An official from the Korea Sports Federation said, “We also found out (about the implementation) through an official letter from the Ministry of Education,” adding, “We are still receiving complaints, so we are considering how to respond.” 슬롯게이밍

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