SOUTH BEND -- Street gangs don't require a minimum 2.0 GPA for membership.
Athletic teams in the South Bend Community School Corp. do.
When teams reject, gangs will welcome with open arms.
That's an attitude shared by more than a few coaches in the corporation.
Since 2009, when the SBCSC board of trustees approved a measure calling for any student interested in participating in any extracurricular activity to have a 2.0 GPA from the latest grading period, the corporation has held itself accountable beyond the minimum set by the IHSAA.
Just about every other high school athlete in Indiana must pass 70 percent of their classes -- five D's and an F would work -- while an athlete in South Bend could have five C's and a C-minus and not be eligible.
Is that fair?
There are those -- coaches and parents, alike -- who staunchly stand behind the higher standards. Raise the bar and the students will respond.
Others feel the playing field is no longer level.
A prevailing sentiment in South Bend is that the policy may need to be tweaked.
Corporation athletic director Kirby Whitacre has heard all the grumbling. He's the "buck stops here" guy for the coaches. But, he's a few layers insulated from getting the ear of school board members.
He's got numbers to state the case for the policy. In the fall of 2011, the first full year of implementation, there were about 240 players on the football teams of the corporation's four high schools. Of those, 28 were ruled ineligible because they didn't meet the 2.0 GPA. Twenty-three of the 28 were minorities and 19 were considered poverty (free or reduced lunches) situations.
"Our thinking that every child should have a 2.0; I don't think that's possible," said Whitacre. "It's a real concern. It seems a little unforgiving."
Whitacre doesn't have a grand solution for the situation, but he's hoping dialogue between the school board, coaches and teachers could create a more forgiving alternative, while retaining the foundation of the policy. Discussion is at the grassroots level now. No one has formally approached the issue.
Maybe they should -- soon.
One suggestion would be to have a probation period. An athlete who has a problem in one grading period would have the next grading period to raise the grade before being ruled ineligible.
"Is losing one child too many?" Whitacre said. "What's the human cost in all this?"
Inequities exist in so many areas within the corporation.
- At Washington, an athlete could raise a grade during a six-week grading period, while the other high schools are on nine-week terms.