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Scholarships lost for poor academic performance

1/10/2005

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," Brand 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.