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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

Athletes Must Be Equally Agile In The Classroom
By DOUG CARLSON [email protected]
Published: Feb 1, 2005

From one perspective, it's a public relations campaign. From another, it's long overdue legislation to give meaning to the phrase ``student-athlete.''
Either way, athletes who play sports at NCAA Division I institutions are going to find the academic progress expected of them more demanding in coming years. And schools, for the first time, are going to be held both financially and publicly accountable for their athletes' class work.

Academic reform within the NCAA has been one of the most talked about issues in college sports for more than a decade. The words, it appears, are starting to grow teeth.

With approval of a landmark reform package at its convention outside Dallas in January, the NCAA may have solved one of the previous constraints in holding members accountable to an academic moral standard.

The solution? Scholarship losses and public scrutiny. And even harsher consequences for habitual offenders.

Starting this month, the NCAA will issue its version of the academic Scarlet Letter, informing 325 Division I schools where each of its sports teams, male and female (more than 5,000 teams, in all), stand relative to student academic progress.

The Academic Progress Rate (APR), which illustrates overall team and individual academic standing, and Graduation Success Rate (GSR) initially won't have consequences beyond public scrutiny.

But when the report is released a second time, anticipated to be in February 2006, it will signal a new era in academic accountability in the NCAA. Teams that don't meet the equivalent of a minimum 50 percent graduation rate standard will not be able to re- award scholarships for one year of those athletes who leave school academically ineligible.

From there on, the APR and GSR will be used by the NCAA as a short-term and long-term gauge, with underperformers facing sanctions ranging from postseason ineligibility to additional lost scholarships and revenue.

Bottom line: the NCAA will be keeping score, and the score will mean something.

The effects could start to kick in soon. National Signing Day is Wednesday and there's more reason than ever for schools to make sure grade- point averages get as much scrutiny as 40 times.

``It may force coaches to look a little deeper at a recruit and make sure that recruit has the tools necessary to be successful in school,'' University of Florida compliance director Jamie McCloskey said. ``If that happens, that's

a good thing.''

Once enrolled, athletes will be pressed to hold up their end of the scholarship. The ``40-60-80'' rule raises expectations of individual academic progress to new levels and is intended to push athletes closer to a degree before their athletic eligibility expires.

Beginning with freshmen who enrolled last fall, the rule stipulates 40 percent completion of degree work by the end of their sophomore year, 60 percent by their junior year and 80 percent by the end of their fourth year on campus.

Though it adds another layer of responsibility for coaches competing amid the win-at- all-costs mentality that often permeates big-time college sports, not all are complaining.

``It's a situation now where you're more accountable to [the athletes], and they're more accountable to the academics, and that's the way it should be for a student-athlete,'' Miami football coach Larry Coker said.

``Accountability is good - for the athletes and the coaches.''

But it also could sting.

The one-year loss of a scholarship is considered a ``contemporaneous'' penalty. A historical penalty structure, to be determined over the next year, will take into account the APR and long-term GSR and could bring repeat violators sanctions ranging from postseason ineligibility to loss of NCAA membership.

According to the most recently collected NCAA data, 52.1 percent of Division I schools would have at least one sports team falling under the APR cut line of 925 - a score derived from a combination of individual academic progress and cumulative graduation rates.

Football (30.7 percent), baseball (23.9) and basketball (20.1) make up the largest group of non-conformers and currently are the most likely to have at least one player failing to meet the progress requirements.

Though the Board of Directors limited the potential loss of scholarships to 10 percent of the total available, that means a football team in worst-case scenario could be down nine scholarships in any given year.

The good news is schools won't be held accountable for academically eligible players who transfer or leave early for a shot in professional sports.

``Students leave for different reasons, but while they're at your institution you should be educating them,'' said Wally Renfro, senior adviser to NCAA president Myles Brand.

Vanderbilt chancellor Gordon Gee, who raised eyebrows, if not standards, when he did away with his school's athletic department a year and a half ago, envisions the current reforms as the first domino to fall.

He sees the day coming when a percentage of conference revenue and television money are withheld from schools that fail to meet satisfactory academic standards.

``The first step toward meaningful academic reform was to wrestle intercollegiate athletics away from the coaches and athletic directors and set up a command structure where the university presidents are in charge,'' Gee said.

Next, he said, is for the presidents and faculty to take direct responsibility for the academic programs athletes are involved in, eliminating degree programs sometimes used to hide underachieving students to protect their athletic eligibility.

He favors NCAA endorsement of a Knight Commission recommendation that bowl eligibility be reserved for schools meeting a minimum 50 percent graduation rate.

Twenty-seven of 56 teams competing in bowls after the 2004 football season did not meet that standard. Of eight teams in BCS bowls, only Michigan, Virginia Tech and Southern California would have been eligible.

``I believe the academic reform measures are going to make a positive impact,'' said Mark Meleny, Director of Academic Support at Florida State. ``The challenge we're facing right now is that the NCAA weakened the initial eligibility standard for incoming freshmen, and we're finding there's a lesser student being created and a higher standard on academic progress once they get here.'' That, too, is changing. By August, incoming freshmen will be required to have completed 14 core courses (up from 13) in high school math, English and science. By August, 2008, the requirement will jump to 16 core courses.

``We have some athletes that have been schooled at home to demand academic excellence, but more often than not we see kids who are gifted athletes who don't have a clue what it takes to be eligible at the high school level, let alone the college level,'' Hillsborough High football coach Earl Garcia said of the challenge of preparing potential Division I recruits to meet the increasing standards.


Staff writer Andy Staples and correspondent Dylan Barmmer contributed to this report.
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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

Just as an FYI, A lot of players fell of college's radars because of this impending rule. They don't have as much leverage to "work" with the players anymore. So for anyone who may be wondering during rectuiting season "what happened to player so-and-so", sometimes this is the reason.

Unstable Grades and a risky chance to graduate.
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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

This is very good. It will be difficult for many schools who only allow players to take 12 credit hours per semester. They better be sure that those hours count. No more dodgeball and ping-pong credits.

On a similar note, the FAU site lists two new recruits as having 4.0 GPA's. Looks like coach is serious.

GO OWLS!!!

You can run kitties, but you can't hide!!!
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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

When they start taking BCS bids from certain schools who don't comply, we can actually have a BCS with Vandy playing Stanford or Duke playing Notre Dame.. ;D
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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

Vandy and Duke might have a ways to go before that happens. However, you do make a good point. Schools like Ohio State will be forced to make changes in a hurry. GO OWLS!!!

You can run kitties, but you can't hide!!!
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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

O.G. I was talking to a friend of mine last night about this ruling and I said about the same as you. You talk about leveling the playing field. We were laughing because I used Duke & Temple. It should give some encouragement on the kid while in high school to do better. This wil be very interesting topic to follow over the next couple of years.
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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

Hopefully, with the extra attention they are putting on education , the attendance issue will be a forgotten woe.
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New NCAA Academic Standards kicks in

owlfan1, with the "new" focus being on grades and not so much on winning, Vandy and Duke may very well be in a bowl game with 4-6 records.. ;D

The attendance issue may be a dead issue if the on-field product isn't producing a lot of wins. The stadiums may not be overflowing anymore.


The watch on this can be very interesting in the near future.
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