Home School: 1 NCAA: 0
Jason Taylor’s freshman year of college at the University of Akron promised to be fulfillment of the all–American boy’s dream. This 17-year-old competed against college sophomores, juniors, and seniors and won a starting line–up position at a Division 1 college! On Jason’s 18th birthday, September 1, 1992, however, his dream began to look more like a nightmare. That was the day–just one day after freshman classes began and only four days before his first college game–the NCAA pulled Jason’s scholarship.
Jason was home schooled from the tenth through twelfth grades through the Christian Liberty Academy Satellite School (CLASS) program. He also played football and basketball with the local public high school—the Woodland Hills Wolverines. Jason’s sports skills brought recruiters to his door, and he chose to play football for the University of Akron.
The trouble arose over the NCAA’s grade point guidelines. Jason’s high school GPA was 3.8, and his SAT score was 130 points higher than the minimum required by the NCAA. There was just one catch. NCAA rules stipulate that correspondence or independent study courses cannot be figured into an applicant’s core GPA. They discredited Jason’s entire home school program and declared him ineligible for the scholarship.
Like so many parents in today’s tough economic times, Tony and Georgia Taylor couldn’t foot the bill for Jason’s college tuition. No scholarship meant no college education. As Mr. Taylor said, “It is impossible to fight the NCAA. They aren’t accountable to the government, to colleges, or to the public. And this wasn’t a constitutional issue.”
Home School Legal Defense Association learned of Jason’s problem on Tuesday, September 8, 1992. Within hours Michael Farris was on a plane to Akron. He met with Jason and his parents, Jason’s coach, and the University of Akron’s Assistant Director of Athletics. The University was very cooperative and supportive.
Next, Mike conferred with NCAA officials. Farris assisted the University of Akron to prepare their appeal of the decision to deny Jason’s scholarship based on the fact that he was home schooled. Attorney Farris pointed out that the NCAA bylaws were designed to keep students from inflating their core GPA with extra correspondence courses. The bylaws were not, Mr. Farris emphasized, intended to discredit an entire educational program. The NCAA officials agreed to reconsider, admitting that they had been unaware of the fact that Jason’s program was overseen by CLASS at the time they declared him ineligible.
It is interesting to note that the legal issues were on the sidelines in this case. It was the educational evidence HSLDA was able to marshal that convinced the NCAA to reverse their decision. Other lawyers wanted to take Jason’s case and file lawsuits. However, a lawsuit would have taken vast amounts of money, and it could have also taken several years to settle. If Jason is to have a college education and a chance to participate in football, time is of the essence. We are grateful that Mike Farris was able to go straight to the heart of the matter and work for what the Taylors really wanted—for Jason to be able to attend the University of Akron and play football this fall.
On September 25, 1992, the NCAA announced that Jason’s scholarship had been reinstated. Because of the NCAA problems, Akron coaches decided to “redshirt” Jason this year to allow him to practice while retaining four full years of eligibility. This decision not only put Jason back on the field, it also allowed him to continue his education at the University of Akron. Mike Farris joins the Taylors in giving glory to God for this victory!