410 D-I teams below NCAA academic standard

Updated: February 28, 2005, 10:21 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Penalties, however, will not be imposed unless an at-risk school loses a player who would have been academically ineligible. Some schools could lose scholarships in the fall.

The most prominent programs that appeared in the deepest 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.

Of the teams currently in the Top Ten of the The Associated Press' men's college basketball poll, three -- Kentucky, Washington and Louisville -- are below the cutoff and in danger of losing scholarships. None of the football programs that finished in the AP's Top 10 last year missed the cutoff point.

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.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press