Report: Naval Academy favors minorities, athletes
Updated at noon Tuesday with comments from Naval Academy.
The Annapolis Capital newspaper on Sunday published a significant investigative piece on admissions at the U.S. Naval Academy, adding new voices and fresh statistics to the ongoing debate over whether the service academy routinely lowers its exacting entry standards for minority applicants and athletes.
A large group of critics, unofficially led by English Professor Bruce Fleming, contend the academy operates a two-tiered admission system. Here's how I described it in a 2009 story:
To win the admissions board's approval, Fleming said (describing his own experience on that board), a white applicant had to present SAT section scores higher than 600 (out of 800); a transcript of A's and B's; and a strong background of leadership in sports and student life, reflected in a five
four-digit score called the whole-person multiplier multiple.
Black and Hispanic students were routinely admitted with SAT scores in the 500s; with B's and C's; and lower whole-person multipliers, Fleming said in the 2009 account. The same lower standards apply to athletes.
Academy spokesman Cmdr. Joe Carpenter said in response that "since 2004 there has been no "standard cut-off" or minimum SAT for anyone, including white non-athletes or any other group."
The Capital reviewed academy records and found that the school admits students with SAT section scores as low as 370, although its standard cutoff for white non-athletes is 600.
"The unfairness is absolutely real," a former admission board member told the Capital, one of several the paper quoted anonymously.
Carpenter, speaking for the academy, said it was important to distinguish between the characterizations of Fleming and some other former members of the admission board and the Capital's reporting, which is based on comparatively recent data.
"Prof Fleming was on the admissions board 7+ years ago," Carpenter wrote. "The Capital's SAT analysis was for recently admitted classes - those admitted after Fleming's experience on the board. I make these two points for these reasons: Since his experience, there's been the 2003 Supreme Court rulings and periodic internal Navy legal analysis of our admissions process to ensure compliance with the law and Title 10. What Prof. Fleming, and anonymous sources (unknown as to when they were allegedly on the admissions board) may or may not have seen may not match the current and more recent admissions boards proceedings (those analyzed by Kelly's article), and is not reflective of USNA's more recent de-emphasis of SATs throughout USNA's admissions decisions. Without noting the two timeframes, I would caution against drawing direct parallels."
The Capital says the academy uses its Naval Academy Preparatory School, or NAPS, as a back-door admissions pathway for "borderline" students. The prep school is designed as a one-year catch-up program for students with lower test scores and grades or from schools with weak programs, a routine that was common among graduates of rural high schools in earlier generations.
The prep school supplies between one-fifth and one-fourth of each year's entering class at the academy, according to the Capital. Nearly everyone from the prep program gains admission to the academy
ahead of everyone else.
"During a recent two-year period, NAPS grads were arriving at the Naval Academy so poorly prepared for college-level work, the Naval Academy superintendent relieved the officer in charge of the prep school. Still, these Napsters were found to be fully qualified and were admitted to the academy, while other qualified students were turned away," writer Earl Kelly reports.
The 300-student NAPS class of 2011 included 190 minority students and 110 recruited athletes, according to records obtained by the Capital.
More stats: "For the Naval Academy Classes of 2009-2013, 312 African Americans entered the Naval Academy, 180 (58 percent) of whom came through NAPS, according to documents obtained under FOIA."
Among whites, by contrast, "521 of the 4,101 admitted to the academy (13 percent) entered through NAPS," the Capital wrote.
"Of the 155 football players listed on Navy's 2010 roster, 86 (55 percent) attended NAPS, according to the school's sports Web page."
"Forty of Navy's 60 current male lacrosse players (67 percent) attended NAPS, even though many graduated from some of the country's most prestigious private schools including, locally, St. Mary's High School and Severn School, and St. Albans School in Washington, D.C."
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Daniel de Vise
| January 31, 2011; 5:55 PM ET
Categories: Access, Admissions, Athletics | Tags: Annapolis Capital Naval Academy, Bruce Fleming Naval Academy, Naval Academy NAPS, Naval Academy admissions, USNA Bruce Fleming, USNA admissions
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