Accountability or just hot air?
Concluding the NCAA's annual convention, members of the Board of Directors approved sweeping reforms that have strong implications for the way Division I schools treat the academic progress of their athletes.
Under new guidelines adopted today, if student athletes lose their academic eligibility or fail to graduate, schools will be sanctioned with the loss of up to 10% of their NCAA scholarships (a maximum of 9 from a possible 85).
According to ESPN.com:
"The Academic Performance Program applies to every men's and women's sport -- more than 5,000 teams at the 325 Division I schools.
Schools will receive reports in the next few weeks that let them know which of their teams fall below standards set by the Division I Committee on Academic Performance. That will serve as an initial warning."
But still, it's not that clear. Penalties are meted out based on "APR":
"The Academic Progress Rate (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 -- based roughly on a 50-percent graduation rate over a five-year period -- will lose scholarships when players who are academically ineligible leave the school. Such scholarships can't be re-awarded for a year."
But how they will calculate this "Rate" is unclear, and may mean very little in practice. Another issue left unresolved is how the decline in graduation rate attributable to entering the professional drafts is going to be counted. Will leaving early negatively impact the schools? I'd like to see that happen, since I believe that student comes first in student-athlete, but I seriously doubt it.
The penalties are pretty strict, though, and up to 30% of Div. IA football teams may be eligible for sanctions initially and repeat offenders will face more severe penalties:
"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."
Ouch. Can you imagine any Div. IA football program having to drop because their guys couldn't hack it academically? I doubt that will ever happen, and not because they're passing, but because of the way the rules will be enforced.
I'll be watching out for this program, and we'll see where it goes, if anywhere.