Only three weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 academic school year, and Bernard Gassaway, principal of Boys and Girls High School, is making it clear: He's not playing.
And if the student athletes at BGHS are unable to adhere to Gassaway's new rules this year, they won't be playing either—on a sports team, that is.
This year, Gassaway is introducing the Scholar Athletic Policy, a radical new guideline for student athletes that puts greater emphasis on scholarship, academic performance and civic responsibility.
Under the new policy, all athletes must do at least 30 hours of community service, pass their first-period class (to reduce late arrivals), adhere to a strict dress code and maintain higher academic standards before they can play on a sports team. Gassaway is hoping the new policy will begin to change the culture of athletics at Boys and Girls High School.
"We emphasize scholarship, because of the implication of higher expectations," Gassaway told Bed-Stuy Patch. "We cannot be successful on the court without being successful in the classroom."
Among the academic requirements in the policy is a stipulation that seniors pass all classes each marking period and keep a GPA of 70 percent or better. Sophomore scholar-athletes must pass at least two Regents exams prior to the beginning of their season, while junior scholar-athletes must have passed four Regents exams.
Students who do not adhere to the new policy will not be able to participate in any athletic sports.
"This policy is as much for coaches and parents as it is for students," he said. "Unfortunately, too many children are raised to chase the dream of a career in professional sports. We want coaches to remember that student achievement is paramount."
Gassaway's new policy is inspired by the achievements of the school's 2011 valedictorian and salutatorian, both of whom were scholars and star athletes. One received a full scholarship to the University of Michigan and the other, to Wheaton College.
Gassaway said. “Students will develop greater character, scholarship and value for community. It is our goal to establish a legacy of Boys and Girls High School as an institution that produces scholar athletes.”