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41 percent of bowl teams miss academic standards

12/5/2005 - College Football

ORLANDO, Fla. -- This year's bowl-bound college football
teams are struggling to meet the NCAA's new academic standards,
with 41 percent falling below minimum requirements and almost half
lacking a 50 percent graduation rate, according to a survey
released Monday.

The 56 Division 1-A football teams headed to bowl games have a
lingering problem of too many student-athletes failing to complete
their studies, said Richard Lapchick, the University of Central
Florida professor who authored the annual report.

"The key is admitting students who are qualified to be in that
school," said Lapchick, who heads the DeVos Sport Business
Management Program at UCF.

This is the first year Lapchick has used the NCAA's Academic
Progress Rate, known as APR, to measure the bowl-bound schools'
academic progress. In past years, the study has relied solely on
graduation rates.

Developed last year, the NCAA's new academic standard awards APR
points based on how many scholarship student-athletes meet academic
eligibility standards. A cutoff score of 925 means an estimated 50
percent of those student-athletes are on track graduate.

Starting this year, NCAA schools that regularly fall below the
925 score can lose scholarships, face recruiting restrictions and
miss postseason play.

In a dry run of the system last year, more than 90 percent of
Division I teams across all sports had passing scores. According to
Lapchick's report, only 33 of the 56 bowl-bound teams -- 59 percent -- got above the 925 cutoff.

"Obviously we would like to see those statistics higher," said
NCAA spokesman Bob Williams. "But this is a process that the NCAA
member institutions are going through to change behavior and
essentially ensure the student athletes, coaches and everyone
involved in collegiate athletics understands that academic
achievement and academic performance is just as important as
athletic performance."

While the APR figures give schools an up-to-date assessment of
how they're doing, the graduation rates are still useful in showing
the disparity in the graduation rates between black and white
student-athletes, Lapchick said.

Two-thirds of the bowl-bound schools graduated less than half of
their African-American football student-athletes. By comparison, 49
percent of the bowl-bound schools failed to have a 50 percent
graduation rate overall for those players, according to Lapchick's
report.

Lapchick praised Northwestern University and Boston College for
doing the best job of graduating football players. Both teams
graduated at least 78 percent of all football student-athletes and
at least 74 percent of African-American football student-athletes.

Two conferences, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big East, had every one of their bowl-bound schools receive an
APR score higher than 925, and all the teams in both conferences
were in the top 25 of APR rankings for bowl-bound schools.

The Pacific 10's five schools chosen for bowl games scored less
than 925.

The NCAA should be aiming to have two-thirds of the schools make
the 925 cut when the next round of APR figures are released early
next year, Lapchick said.

"I'm really hopeful that the next time the APR scores come out,
it will show the expected improvement because of the sanctions that
can be imposed on the schools," Lapchick said. "The APRs have
gotten the schools' notice and attention."