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. justathought

    How will this affect the NFL in coming years? Most NCAA players go on to become a part of the national work force or professionals like doctors, lawyers etc. not athletes.

    August 17, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Casual Observer

      most DI athletes in major football and basketbal programs do not graduate – hockey is even worse
      just check the graduation stats and you will be amazed
      limit participation in the NBA or NFL to four years after they have graduated from high school
      the NCAA needs a complete over haul to reflect the realities of today's major college sports programs
      OSU and Texas athletic departments are small corporations and they need athletes – not students – to keep bringing in the cash

      August 17, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • drny

      @Casual Observer: That's the point of the new rule, to force student-athletes to BE STUDENT-athletes. It can't be just about money.

      August 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    They'll be smarter, obviously.

    August 17, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. ELH

    Pretty meaningless unless the NCAA rules also provide an acceptable list of coursework that the athletes must take. No more phony "slide 'em through" courses like Recreational Activity Management.

    August 17, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. lawlzor

    Wonder how many Physical Education majors there will be now?

    August 17, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. RUFFNUTT

    means they will have to cheat just a bit more...

    August 17, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. yaRight

    So now the Prof that wants to give the grade that they feel the kid deserves will have more pressure on them to pass anyone that is part of the program..... while the kid that PAYS his tuition and busts their butt, gets the real grade.....

    I wonder how much more abuse this rule can handle before it's finally realized to be worthless.

    August 17, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. justathought

    I think, RUFFNUT, unfortunately, you are right. I think of the story that I read, long, long, long time ago of some NFL player who cheated his whole way through school and when his kid learned he could not even read he decided to go back to school so as to be a good example to his child. Wish I remember his name.

    August 17, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. Matthew

    Hopefully it will trickle down to the High School athlete, so they will improve their grades to increase their chance of being recruited.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TJB

    Strange that the story and comments don't mention any women's sports teams that would be affected. Maybe because far fewer would need to worry about this!

    The major men's college sports are simply minor leagues sucking away a disproportionate amount of NCAA funding and leaving the other sports left with a pittance. Most womens sports participants are true student-athletes, and their coaches have the integrity and morals to treat them as such.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • JAB

      "disproportionate amount" ? Not sure I agree with you there. More like the few major men's sports are subsidizing all other sports including women's programs. Only exceptions are UConn and Tennessee women's basketball.

      Though I would like to see a little more integrity to those few Men's programs. It is ridiculous to call them student athletes, since most don't even go to class.

      With the new NCAA regulations I see more "tutors" being hired to "help" those athletes. Anyone remember the Clem Haskins scandal at the U of MN?

      August 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. looktothewomen

    Maybe the men's program and some of the women's programs should look to those in their own circle who are doing it right. Pat Summitt has a record 100% of her players have graduated. I know of other women's programs where the coaches are very interested in their players academic progress as well. Look to the women guys. They may not have such high dollar careers in the WNBA but chances are that a greater number of them have the basics to support themselves with a career in or out of basketball.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      "such high dollar careers" You hit it on the head with that statement. That is why women's programs are "doing it right" Because there is no money persuading them to "do it wrong" If I grew up poor, why would I waste my time in college going to class? I'm going to do everything I can to get drafted into the Pro's.

      August 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dude

    We need to educate athletes as best we can and help them mature as moral, productive, individuals. However, at some point, we need to stand aside and the let the athletes in big-time college athletic programs concentrate on athletic excellence. We don't measure graduating engineers based on their 40-yard dash and we shouldn't measure gifted athletes on their LSAT scores. College athletes in big-time programs work harder and train harder in their specialties then most students do in their majors. Society stands ready to reward them with good jobs and good pay at the professional level. Who are a bunch of pencil-necked professors to stand in their way with an APR? The talents of our athletes will never be outsourced to India!

    August 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • SILENCIO

      Yet when that athlete blows out their knee and is never the same again, they will have wished they were pushed a bit more academically.

      August 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Baron

    It's going to further enhance cheating in the classroom I fear. Universities will be vulturing over professors making sure that the right kids pass or the university loses big money. I love the concept, but not sure it's going to work in this very dishonest world.

    August 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michelle

    To me, the NCAA rules committee are a total bunch of hyprocrits. Its not going to do a thing for college sports, the fans, or the graduation rates, as many of these athletes will be 'one and done' players, which will further bring down the APR. Or, it will further bring on cheating attempts in order to bring the APR/graduation rates up. Watch for the 'behind closed doors' bribery begin between certain big-name schools and the head honchos of the NCAA(similar to what our 'great' politicians do behind closed doors). Even though our 'great, so-called public servants' (AKA politicians – supposedly) have serious issues, why don't they take the time to look at all the tax-free benefits the NCAA gets for all these sports ventues while exploiting these athletes for their talents? Student-athletes may get a full-ride scholarship, but in this day and age, that scholarship isn't enough to cover everything. Until the hypocricy of the NCAA gets exposed once and for all, the NCAA head honchos and their 'yes' boys have no (zero, zilch, nada) credibility.

    August 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. larry

    More rules may result in pay cuts for these athletes. That could force them out of school sooner to get into the NBA.

    August 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bud

    The entire culture needs changing. The NCAA is a joke. Colleges and the NCAA it's self are making millions upon millions on these athletes and yet many athletes can't even afford a hamburger on friday night or can't afford to take a girl out for a date. Many athletes come from horribly poor and deprived backgrounds. Yes most are black but some whites are just as poor. While I agree a college education is and should always be the goal something has to change. I think all athletes should be required to stay in school for a minimum of three years and maintain and exceptable grade point average. However I think a personal per-diem system for college athletes needs to be part of their scholarships. Meals and Incidentals so to speak. Of course their should be a cap and the overall cost of the per-diem should be negligible but thats how I see it. Would it stop all the problems? No! But I believe it would stop many of them and more athletes would graduate which is the entire reason for a scholarship in the first place. Of course one would have to persuade the NBA to go along with the three year rule. Is it fair to force an athlete over 18 to stay in school? I think so as long as their is an acceptable alternative. For example if you feel good enough after the age of 18 to go pro then go! But once you enter college, and accept the scholarship, you should, with a few exceptions, have to stay a minimum of three years. Good Day, Joe.

    August 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
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