Arizona’s no pass, no play rule promotes scholarship among athletes

The Arizona State Board of Education wants to ensure its athletes succeed in the classroom

Arizona’s no pass, no play rule promotes scholarship among athletes

Kara Brown, Freelance Reporter,

Since adopting the no pass, no play rule in the early 1990’s, the policy set by the Arizona State Board of Education has forced student-athletes to focus on their grades as much as they do when preparing for a game.

According to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, “they do not interpret, administer or enforce the ‘no pass, no play’ rules because they are not AIA rules.”

That being said, Scottsdale Unified School District and District Athletic Director Clif Mckenzie wishes the best of luck with student-athletes’ academic and athletic endeavors. The district focuses on academic success by setting standards for extracurricular activities.

In order to be considered eligible to compete in any athletic contest, SUSD abides by the state “No Pass-No Play” rule. Under the policy, students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average during the season of sport. The students undergo grade check windows once a month. If the student’s grades are below a 2.0 or he/she has a failing grade, that student is ineligible for one week of play. After one week, if the student’s grades have improved to a passing grade, the student immediately gains eligibility.

Scottsdale’s Saguaro High School is amongst all other schools in the district that follow through with this policy. Athletic Director and Assistant Principal David Mietzner finds it important that student-athletes strive for victory, both in the classroom and on the field.

“Athletics are definitely significant to the success of students in a comprehensive high school,” Mietzner said. “However, academics are priority number one and each school in the district must send the same message to students.”

Although the policy seems to focus solely on students, the grade check process also affects teachers. In Jim Brown’s 16 years of teaching English at Saguaro, he’s made the hard ruling of failing a star player on different occasions.

“It is a very difficult decision, but it’s one that teachers need to adhere to and follow the rules,” Brown said. “This lets them know that this is part of the responsibility of being an athlete. You are held to a higher standard and therefore you must follow the rules or suffer the consequences.”

With their playing time at stake, students take the no pass, no play policy very seriously. Whether pushed by their teammates, parents, coaches or their own conscience, most students in danger of failing quickly shape up with hopes to regain eligibility.

Soccer captain Luca Gerra understands that he must use his head in the classroom if he wants to hit headers on the soccer pitch.

“Students need to realize that academics are just as important as sports are,” Gerra said. “You can’t play if you don’t put in the effort.”

Although athletics help high school students grow, it is not the sole purpose of attending high school and working towards a diploma. High school instills the concept of hard work and achievement in the real world, exceeding beyond the school’s boundaries.

“Education and academic success are paramount for students,” Mietzner said. “Ninety-nine percent of all students will be employable based on education and job training, not athletics.”