NCAA passes landmark academic reform package

Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 1:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 1:51 p.m.

GRAPEVINE, Texas - The NCAA approved the first phase of a landmark academic reform package Monday under which about 30 percent of Division I football teams would have lost scholarships had it been implemented immediately.


On the last day of the NCAA convention, the Division I Board of Directors approved the Academic Progress Rate (APR), the standard teams in every sport must reach beginning in the 2005-06 school year to avoid scholarship reductions.

Schools will receive warning reports in the next few weeks that let them know which of their teams fall below the APR set by the Division I Committee on Academic Performance. The rate is based roughly on a 50-percent graduation rate over a five-year period.

The Academic Performance Program applies to every men's and women's sport _ more than 5,000 teams at the 325 Division I schools.

University of Hartford president and committee chairman Walter Harrison said the biggest problems were in football (about 30 percent of teams), baseball (25 percent) and men's basketball (20 percent).

"Our hope, of course, is not the penalty," Harrison said. "We hope it encourages different kinds of behavior so that the numbers will be lower."

The so-called "contemporaneous penalties" are considered rehabilitative in nature and expected to serve as warnings for teams with poor academic performance. Such penalties could begin after December 2005.

Another phase of the program will be historical penalties, which will be more severe and directed at schools with continued problems. Harrison's committee is still working on the penalties, and they will have to be approved by NCAA directors later.

Kansas chancellor Robert Hemenway, the chairman of the NCAA board, said the board has already endorsed those tougher penalties.

Academic reform has been a centerpiece issue for Myles Brand since he became NCAA president two years ago. In his state of the association address Saturday, he said the measures "will change the culture of college sports."

The APR will be based on the number of student-athletes on each team who achieve eligibility and return to campus full-time each term. There will also be a longer-term graduation success rate.

Beginning next fall, teams that fall under a minimum APR will lose scholarships when players who are academically ineligible leave the school. Such scholarships can't be re-awarded for a year.

"This is a very strong standard," Myles said Monday. "Implementing these rules is taking a position to reinforce the idea that student-athletes are students first and are expected to make continued progress toward graduation."

The committee did put a 10-percent cap on the number of scholarships teams could lose.

Based on 85 total scholarships, I-A football teams could lose no more than nine scholarships in any one year. Both men's and women's basketball could only lose up to two scholarships.

Teams that continue to have problems will be subject to the more severe penalties once the "historical penalties" are put into place.

Consecutive years of falling below certain academic standards would lead to recruiting and further scholarship restrictions. A third straight year could lead to being banned from preseason or postseason games, and a fourth would affect Division I membership status.

"Certainly, our hope is that would be a strong enough penalty that no one would ever reach that plateau," Harrison said.

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