BURLINGTON, N.C. - If you want to be a student-athlete in Alamance County, you now have to be an "average" student.
The Alamance-Burlington Board of Education voted to toughen eligibility requirements for student athletes at their meeting on Monday.
READ: ABSS BOE Start Conversation About Toughening Grade Requirements for Athletes
Currently, ABSS students have to meet criteria set by the North Carolina High School Sports Association to be eligible to play school sports. Those standards require students to pass three out of four of their classes.
The board decided to change the GPA requirements to a 2.0,or a "C" average. It's an idea not all are in favor of - including ABSS high school principals.
In an email sent to BOE members last month, Eastern Alamance High School Principal Dave Ebert wrote in part, "The traditional High School Principals have discussed this policy and we all feel that it is not in the best interest of the students. I have received confirmation from the Athletic Directors at each of the traditional high schools regarding the School Sponsored Extra-Class Activities policy. The AD's also disagree with this policy."
Ebert added, "If interscholastic athletics is the motivation to keep students in school and working toward graduation, why should we go against the NCHSAA standards, create a new policy, and take away the very thing that motivates these students to stay in school?"
ABSS BOE Chairman Tony Rose told WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower in August, "Three Ds and an F is technically a passing grade for playing athletics and so students that are struggling that much probably need to be spending their time not practicing sports but working on their academics."
Rose added, "A student that is making those kinds of grades is probably at risk of dropping out and so we want to make sure that they're focusing on the right things."
Rose and four other board members voted in favor of the policy change.
"I think anytime you raise the standards, or raise expectations, there is going to be fear of some people that people will not make adjustment and they'll fall shorter but I think this is more about the expectations and excellence rather than accepting mediocrity,"said Rose.
Board members Jackie Cole and Dr. Kristen Moffitt voted against the change.
"I believe every child should do the very best they can but I think we have to recognize that for some children, slightly less than a 2.0 might be the best they can do," said Jackie Cole. "I don't want to penalize a child for doing their best no matter what their best is."
Cole said she is in favor of academic rigor but she believes this policy will be a barrier for students.
"I do believe school is the number one priority but I do believe athletics and any of our extracurricular can enhance the school experience to make a child successful."
The policy change will go into effect next school year. The first probationary phase will start after the Fall semester.
There are exceptions for students in the Exceptional Children's program.
To read the policy, click here.
Guilford County and Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools require their student athletes to maintain a 2.0 GPA.
WFMY News 2