The Atlanta Journal-Constitution just did a report on student athletes’ SAT scores. Through a public records request, they found average SAT scores for entering freshmen students, athletes, and football players, for public universities in different athletic conferences. Not surprisingly, athletes’ SAT scores tended to lag behind the average scores of university students. This was particularly true for football players, as their average SAT scores were some of the lowest. Obviously, football and scholastic aptitude infrequently go together.
But a SAT score is more than a proprietary college admissions number—it can also be used as a proxy for IQ, or general intelligence. Back in 2004, Meredith Frey and Douglas Detterman published a paper in the Psychological Science journal where they correlated SAT scores with the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM)–both of which are used to estimate IQ, and correlate strongly with other intelligence tests. Two equations were derived for predicting IQ from SAT scores. However, only one proved to be reliable for post-1994 SATs, as the test underwent significant changes and scores were recentered that year.
XIQ = (0.095 * SAT-Math) + (-0.003 * SAT-Verbal) + 50.241
Using this equation, the correlation between SAT and Raven’s APM scores was found to be .72 after adjusting for a restricted sample range (n=116, σ=119). To verify the stability of the equation, a jackknife procedure was undertaken where the equation is derived from on one-half the sample, tested on the second-half, then repeated vice-versa. Correlations from the two tests were .523 and .542, respectively (p < .01).
I took this equation and applied it to the SAT scores listed in the AJC report. Of course, only composite scores were reported. So, I found the average verbal and math scores for each testing year, and calculated each score’s percentage of the total. These percentages were used to find a rough estimate of students’ and athletes’ average sub-scores. Both male and female averages were utilized for the student population, whereas only average male subscores were included for atheletes and football players, as these two groups are predominately male.
The SAT scores and estimated IQs for students, athletes, and football players, from 54 public universities, in eight division conferences, can be found below:SAT Scores and Estimated IQs for Students and Student Athletes
|School||Conf.||Student SAT||Athlete SAT||Football SAT||Student IQ||Athlete IQ||Football IQ|
|Oklahoma State||Big 12||1103||971||878||101.5||94.3||90.1|
|Iowa State||Big 12||1133||1058||922||102.9||98.9||92.6|
|Kansas State||Big 12||1085||1024||100.6||97.3|
|Texas A&M||Big 12||1157||1001||911||104.2||96.9||92.7|
|Texas Tech||Big 12||1120||968||901||102.4||96.0||92.8|
|South Florida||Big East||1099||993||932||101.5||96.5||93.7|
|Ohio State||Big Ten||1163||1050||955||104.3||98.5||94.2|
|Michigan State||Big Ten||1116||1017||917||102.3||97.1||92.5|
This table and more details can be found in this spreadsheet: College-Athletes-SAT-and-IQ-Scores.xlsx (57.8 KiB, 1,662 hits)
College-Athletes-SAT-and-IQ-Scores.xlsx (57.8 KiB, 1,662 hits)
In terms of conferences as a whole, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) ranked first in average IQ for students and athletes, while the Big Ten conference took first for football players, with an average of 94.7. The Big 12 conference had both the athletes and football players with the lowest average IQ, at 97.1 and 93.3 respectively. The Big East had the students with the lowest IQ, averaging 102.7. Conference-USA and the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) are not included in that ranking as only one school was represented from each.
The schools with the largest gaps in SAT and IQ scores were Florida State and UCLA. Florida´s SAT and IQ gap was 346 and 16.1, respectively. UCLA was 345 and 16.5. AJC´s Mark Knobler noted that these gaps between football players and students are larger than in typical students between the University of Georgia and Harvard University. Oregon State had the smallest SAT and IQ gap—88 and 5.2 points, respectively.
Surprisingly though, basketball players were even worse off than those specializing in the pigskin.
Nationwide, football players average 220 points lower on the SAT than their classmates — and men’s basketball players average seven points less than football players.
Sports are big business for these universities. Coaches rotate on what seems like a quadrennial basis, often making more than the presidents of their universities. Their temporary, high paid tenures and golden parachutes are analogous to that of many high profile CEOs. As for players, admission requirements for typical students rarely have any relevancy for talented athletes, who may even receive all-expenses paid scholarships in addition to enrollment with GPA and SAT/ACT scores that are below minimum acceptance.
And, there are also other examples of sports dominating and superseding university policies.
I know that Mississippi State University, an SEC school, provides free daily tutoring, specifically, for all athletes—the civilian student body need not apply. And should an athlete’s GPA fall below minimum for any semester, that tutoring becomes mandatory. Again, this is not true for regular students. Another school, the University of Southern Mississippi, actually closes its library a couple hours before any football game—even if the game is during the week. At USM, at least, access to football is more important than access books.
And while I am not familiar with the intricacies of other university’s sports programs, I am sure similar priorities exist for most of them as well. It is sad that for these schools, putting and keeping an athlete on the field often takes precedence over keeping a student in the classroom.
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