More than 400 teams could face penalties

Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2005 at 1:17 a.m.
INDIANAPOLIS - More than 400 sports teams at the nation's Division I schools could lose scholarships next year under the NCAA's new academic standards, according to a report released Monday.
Most of the scholarship losses, which would be for one year, were expected in football, baseball and men's basketball.
Of the 5,270 Division I teams, about 410 risk penalties. About half of the nation's 328 Division I schools have at least one team that could face sanctions, according to the NCAA's preliminary report.
``We hope the behavior changes and the number of teams will actually go down over time,'' NCAA president Myles Brand said in a conference call.
The NCAA's new calculation generates a score between 0 and 1,000. The number is determined by a points formula that rewards long-term eligibility and retention of student-athletes. Programs can lose points when athletes transfer, drop out, leave for the pros or become academically ineligible while still at the school.
Football, baseball and men's basketball were the only sports with averages below a 925-point cutline at which penalties would be assessed. Baseball teams averaged 922, while football and men's basketball were at 923.
The most prominent programs that appeared in trouble were the men's basketball teams at Fresno State and Baylor. Fresno State received a 611, while Baylor scored 647 - a figure affected by the transfer of several players after the 2003 shooting death of Patrick Dennehy.
Officials from some schools expressed their concerns with the scores. At Maryland-Baltimore County, the men's indoor track team scored a 600 - a figure athletic director Charles Brown had already told NCAA officials was wrong.
``To be considered well below the cutline is very embarrassing and it hurts our recruiting,'' Brown said. ``It's extremely upsetting that the NCAA released something when they know there are some flaws. This is an honors institution.''
The new calculation gives an athlete one point each semester for staying academically eligible and another point for staying in school. For instance, a perfect score for a 13-member basketball team at a semester school would be 52.
The total number of points a team actually receives is divided by the maximum possible total to get a percentage, which is converted to the 1000-point scale.
Some teams below the cutline will not be penalized because of a statistical adjustment that will help eliminate anomalies for teams with fewer athletes; others can apply for a waiver. Programs can lose scholarships for up to one year and no team can lose more than 10 percent of what it offers.
``This represents the implementation of the most far-reaching academic reform in decades,'' Brand said. ``It holds schools accountable for the performance of their student-athletes.''
Monday's report only indicates how schools are doing based on data collected from the 2003-04 academic year. No penalties will be enforced until data from the 2004-05 school year are included.
Schools are expected to be notified in December of the final results, and programs must take the penalties as early as possible. Some schools could opt to take their punishment in the fall if they expect penalties.
Stronger sanctions, such as postseason bans for consistently poor long-term academic performance, are expected to be enforced by the fall of 2008.

Vols have four problem teams

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Four men's teams at Tennessee did not meet the new standard set by the NCAA to measure academic progress, with the basketball team making the lowest score at the university.
Baseball, football and men's tennis also fell below the cutoff while all the women's teams were above it. Five Tennessee women's teams, including basketball, had perfect scores.
Men's basketball at Tennessee came in at 852 while baseball was 885, men's tennis 906 and football 920. Nationally, baseball teams averaged 922, while football and men's basketball were at 923.
``We knew a little bit about where we were going to be because of our tracking. I don't know if anything was a surprise,'' Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said.
Hamilton was optimistic Tennessee's athletes would improve and meet the new standards.
``Our coaches are competitive people. Our athletes are competitive athletes. Any time there has been an increase in academic standards in the NCAA or at our institution, our coaches and student-athletes have risen to that occasion, and I would expect no less this time,'' Hamilton said.
- Associated Press

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