One of the nation's most prestigious institutions with a vibrant Division I athletic department has found its admissions policies for prospective athletes come under question for rather odd reasons: Critics are saying that the school isn't bending enough to accommodate athletes, rather than bending too much.
As noted by Rivals.com and Northwestern blog Lake The Posts, Northwestern's basketball program recently failed in its attempt to gain admission for Croatian prospect Mislav Brzoja, despite the fact that he boasts a pristine 4.0 GPA from Indianapolis (Ind.) Trader's Point Christian Academy. Another Northwestern commit, 6-foot-11 center Alex Olah, was admitted from the same school earlier this spring.
While the rejection of a mid-tier prospect from a Division I program with tough academic standards might not usually turn heads, the fact that it came when that prospective student boasted a 4.0 GPA and one of his prep teammates had already been admitted raises unique questions. There is no sentiment that Trader's Point Christian is a "diploma factory"; if that was the case, Olah would not have been admitted, either.
According to Lake The Posts, the concerns of the Northwestern admissions committee likely centered around Brzoja's academic record in his native Croatia. When combined with the fact that Brzoja didn't attend Trader's Point Christian for his entire high school career, the Northwestern admissions department determined that his academic record was not sufficient for admission into the school.
While no numbers from Brzoja's European academic career have come to public attention, the teenager allegedly didn't perform as well in those classes as he did once he moved to America. While some transfer athletes might have been able to avoid using any prior high school work from outside the country, Brzoja had to petition the NCAA to include prior credits from Croatia to graduate with the Class of 2012.
As it would on many teams, Brzoja's loss will be keenly felt in Evanston. The graduating senior, who now plans to attend Dayton, was an impressive contributor to the Croatia U-18 team at the 2011 European Championships, where he averaged 13.7 points-per-game while turning heads with his shooting accuracy.
Those traits could have been sitting on the Northwestern bench come next fall. Instead, they'll now be found to the Southeast in the Atlantic 10, despite a GPA of 4.0.
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