Relaxing academic requirements for athletes leads to exploitation, says University of Georgia President Charles Knapp, who defended a decision to prohibit the nation's largest athletic programs from giving scholarships to students who only partially meet entrance regulations.

Proposition 42, adopted last week by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, reverses an earlier regulation and conforms to a Georgia entrance policy that for a time was stricter than those at other schools.However, the move has been labeled as racist, as most of the affected athletes are poor and black.

To qualify for an athletic scholarship at the largest Division I NCAA schools, a high school student must have a C average in 11 core curriculum courses and score at least 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Previously, an athlete who met one of the two minimum admission requirements was considered a "partial qualifier" and could enter college on an athletic scholarship.

Knapp called the proposal a "modest step in some ways, but an important step."

Knapp said Monday there were "a lot better ways of promoting cultural diversity on campus besides athletic scholarships." He said schools could hire more minority faculty members and provide more academic scholarships.

Emphasis on athletic scholarships as a major vehicle for blacks to attend college lends credence to charges of exploitation, Knapp added.

Last May, the member schools in the Southeastern Conference passed a similar measure proposed by the University of Georgia, and now, so has the NCAA.

"We've clearly got an educational crisis in this country. That has been pointed out again and again in reports like `Nation at Risk.' And we are seeing that reflected, rather than a demonstrated cultural bias on SAT tests," Knapp said.

"Obviously, I don't believe it (the SAT test) is racist, and a majority of presidents of institutions that passed it in San Francisco don't believe it is racist," he said.