NCAA's stricter academic rules: What does it mean for your team?
UConn;s Kemba Walker sports a No. 1 shirt after winning the NCAA championship, but under new rules his team wouldn't have made it to the dance.
August 17th, 2011
09:04 AM ET

NCAA's stricter academic rules: What does it mean for your team?

The NCAA is raising its academic requirements for postseason competition, including bowl games and March Madness, the organization announced Thursday in a news release.

Had the new rules been in effect during the 2010-11 academic year, the University of Connecticut would not have been able to compete in (and win) the NCAA basketball tournament. Syracuse and Florida State would have also been barred from the Big Dance, and the University of Southern California wouldn't have qualified for the "First Four" play-in game it lost to Virginia Commonwealth.

The NCAA calculates an academic progress rate that measures retention and graduation rates for every Division I team, reflecting the previous four academic years. The score comes out to a number as high as 1,000. Since its introduction in 2005, teams with APRs below 925 would face penalties, such as losing scholarships. Postseason bans would be issued only after three consecutive years of APRs below 900.

When the new rule is in full effect, only teams that have APRs of at least 930 will be able to compete in the postseason, according to a NCAA news release. The new rule will be gradually implemented over the next five years.  An APR of 930 comes out to a 50% graduation rate, according to the news release.

"The board voted to raise the  Academic Progress Rate benchmark from 900 to 930 and supported a penalty structure that will require teams to earn at least a 930 four-year, rolling APR in order to participate in postseason competition," the release said.

There was no mention in the announcement of teams being allowed to fall below this minimum for a certain number of years, as they have been in the past.

The idea for the new regulation came out of a conference between NCAA president Mark Emmert and 50 university presidents. After the conference ended last week, the Division I board of directors voted unanimously to approve the new rule.

Last year, UConn's APR for basketball was 893. Since it was not their third consecutive year below 900, the Huskies were able to compete in the NCAA tournament. If the new rules had been in effect, they would have been barred from the Big Dance. In fact, several teams would have been. The University of Texas – San Antonio would have been out, as would its play-in opponent Alabama State. No. 3 seed Syracuse may have lost to No. 11 Marquette because of a questionable call, but if the new academic benchmark had been in place, the Orange wouldn't have played at all. Florida State University, with an APR of 926, would have already fallen short before it could fall short of beating Virginia Commonwealth University in the Sweet 16.

The rule, had it been in effect, would have also changed the look of the football postseason. All of last year's conference champions were in the clear APR-wise, but other competitors in post-season bowl games would not have been.

Though Michigan came nowhere close to beating Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, it would have just missed the APR cutoff, with a score of 928. Maryland beat East Carolina in the Military Bowl, but the Terps' APR of 922 would have kept them from playing at all. The New Mexico Bowl and the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl would have had completely different makeups, as Brigham Young, University of Texas – El Paso, University of Louisville and Southern Mississippi all had APRs below 930.

The NCAA news release said a detailed timeline for implementing the new academic benchmarks will be ready in October.

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • College football • Education • Football • Sports
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Philip

    Remember when dunking a basketball was against the rules in College? They claimed that a dunk-shot could not be defended. They "changed" that rule back in the mid-70s, wayyyy before they realized that graduating students who cann't pass an 8th grade final exam circa 1901 wasn't such a good idea for athletes. (actually, the average Ivy leaguer can"t pass that test either. But who needs the 3 R's to become a prescription writer anyway)

    August 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. HAHA

    it means all the powerhouse schools that have low SAT and GPA requirements so they can recruit from the inner city areas will not be looking so hot anymore.

    August 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. rahul

    this rule will change nothing, and will just result in pressure on teachers to hand out good grades to players - there is too much money invested in college sports for a silly thing like "academics" to get in the way.

    August 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. El

    I think Rice University will be the only school to win football & basketball championships.

    August 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eric

      Haha, can you see Harvard winning a championship? That would be great.

      August 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snoop

      The Final Four will be the entire March Madness – Rice vs Harvard vs MIT vs Cal Poly ..

      August 21, 2011 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jane

    It's not only the grades that have the impact – it's the kids that enter a draft before their senior year! Why stay in school if a professionl team is waving millions in your face. Kids who might have stuck it out and graduated opt out for the money which results in the lower APR! The NCAA makes big bucks off these kids and many of them aren't allowed to work so who wouldn't opt out for the money? The NCAA is a "do as I say, not as I do" organization!

    August 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Do the math

      The kids that enter the draft before their senior year are very much a minority.

      August 18, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. viranka

    of course Rice University will win no other school will be eligible to play!! LOL

    August 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. nytw

    The only thing this rule change means is that the NCAA will be giving more waivers.

    August 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Will Smith

      It also means schools willl try harder to put more jock friendly classes in their curriculum.

      August 18, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Butler Bulldogs

    The NCAA is already too corrupt, we all know that's why they play the Final Four in those football stadiums. While trying to sell more tickets they ruin the sport, the players have no depth perception and that's why their shooting percentages all go to the garbage. The NCAA is just doing this for appearances, you know they have to let those schools play or they'll just lose money. Plus this is just going to promote more corruption among the schools, teachers will just start handing out good grades so the teams can go to the big dance.

    August 18, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. pt6071

    In a way the phrase "student-athlete" has always been a sham in big-time Div 1 sports. If shifting the focus of a school toward learning forces more of the athletes out it would only benefit the student body at large, rather than a handful of local celebrities.

    August 18, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. chillipepper

    It means tests will become easier than grade school

    August 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. kid_wonder

    How to get paid as a college athlete: form a group within your university, each athlete will aim for a graduation date so that they will be just shy of graduation when their eligibility is up. Each year, everyone whose eligibility is up drops out of school without graduating. Then they enter into negotiations to get paid to return to school and graduate.

    If a school makes enough money off of their sports programs then it would just be a cost-benefit analysis for the school – and since NCAA rules do no apply to non-student athletes there are no rules broken. Furthermore, one could then start to make the argument that since the school pays non-student athletes to complete their degree, then paying a student-athlete to do the same would not be an improper benefit (yeah, that's a stretch)

    August 21, 2011 at 4:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. erzhik

    Schools don't even care about these requirements. They will just tell teachers to raise grades of players and nothing will be solved.

    August 21, 2011 at 4:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. jrhew

    How about athletic requirements on academic students too?

    August 21, 2011 at 4:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. THANK YOU NCAA WE NEED EDUCATED ATHLETES

    It is about time. We allow athletes a full ride to college and they don't take education serious. Then when eligibility ends they quit. This will make coaches more responsible for their education. Teachers/Profs will not change their grades or dummy down their courses. Schools have been struggling with this for so many years. I think it is about time that someone regulates and puts in standards that these student athletes have to preform in class as well as on the field/court. This also allows teachers in the high school to hold high school athletes more accountable. When you put in rules most will adhere. There are always those that will try to get around the system. Just one more loop hole closed. THANK YOU NCAA.

    August 21, 2011 at 6:10 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • athlete's dad

      Or will this rule make the cheating and rule breaking worse? There are already so many rules...the NCAA is just creating more problems even as they try to fix another

      August 21, 2011 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |
    • seriously?

      Some profs already cut so much slack for athletes, and there are classes and even majors tailored for them. They know who's classes to take and who's not to take. They know the profs that actually expect work to be done, and the ones that will hold their hands, or even let them off the hook completely.

      This rule won't change that, but might help a tad bit in that "D's get degrees" won't cut it completely anymore.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. seriously?

    They'll just add more BS majors and classes. When I was at U of Illinois, most of the basketball team and football players majored in kinesiology, sports science, etc.

    What else can one major in where they can take bowling, ice-skating, swimming, etc, and get a college degree in the end. I know almost every other major on campus wouldn't allow the kines classes to even count as electives towards the 125 hour total.

    Sad thing was when you were stuck with one of these idiots in like a psych 101 class and they were dumb as bricks. Some of them really were good students, but a lot of them – especially the star athletes – would have never gotten into the university if it weren't for being good at their sport, and some of them weren't even up to par to get into a community collge.

    August 21, 2011 at 6:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
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