UConn Attempts to Reverse NCAA Tourney Ban
(Editor’s Note: The NCAA has been tightening standards on Division I college football and basketball programs by requiring better academic performance from student-athletes. The University of Connecticut is the highest profile program thus far to run afoul of the Academic Performance Rating (APR) standards. Its men’s basketball team has been banned from the 2013 NCAA basketball tournament due to a low APR score. It was recently learned the UConn is apparently attempting to circumvent this penalty).
The University of Connecticut has proposed reducing the number of games it will play next season if the NCAA grants a waiver to allow the Huskies to play in the 2013 men’s basketball tournament.
The school is currently barred from the tourney, a penalty for years of below-standard academic results, but it requested a waiver last month. That document, obtained this week by The Associated Press under a Freedom of Information request, outlines proposed self-imposed penalties that will be instituted if the request is granted.
Those include forfeiting the revenue awarded to the Big East for participating in the 2013 tournament, reducing the number of regular-season games played in the 2012-13 season from 27 to 23, and barring coach Jim Calhoun from meeting off-campus with prospective recruits during the fall 2012 contact period.
“Collectively, the university’s proposal will clearly send the message that the institution fully accepts the responsibility for past failings,” the school writes in its waiver request. “It will result in the economic equivalent of a postseason ban without harming the very students the NCAA is trying to protect.”
The schedule changes also would include eliminating exhibition games next season. The school said all hours that would have been spent in competition, will instead be spent in study hall, tutor sessions or advisor meetings.
The school said Calhoun also will bring a current or former NBA player with him to inner-city schools for at least five educational sessions on the importance of academic achievement.
The waiver request also outlines the school’s Academic Improvement Plan— new programs and penalties the school already has put in place in an effort to improve the team’s academic standing.
Among those are mandated sanctions for any player who misses three or more classes during the academic year and daily checks of course work for student-athletes who have a grade-point average of 2.3 or lower.
One player, whose name is redacted in the copy of the document released to the AP, was already benched by Calhoun this season after missing two classes.
In addition, school president Susan Herbst is now receiving a weekly academic progress report for all team members.
Under rules approved in October, a school must have a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average of 900 on the NCAA’s annual Academic Progress Rate, which measures the academic performance of student athletes.
The defending national champions would be academically ineligible in 2013, because the NCAA plans to use data from the 2009-10, and 2010-11 academic years.
But Walter Harrison, the chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Academic Performance, said that the body will be meeting on Feb. 20 to discuss whether to adjust reporting dates to allow schools to use their most recent data in qualifying for tournaments. For the 2013 men’s basketball tournament, that would mean scores from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic year.
UConn would qualify for the tournament under that scenario.
“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “We could just decide to keep the current policy in place. Secondly, we could decide that we want to make a change, and that may require board approval, which would mean it wouldn’t happen until April. The third possibility is we might not make any decision, and talk about it again in April.”
UConn also has implemented new standards for incoming basketball classes. The goal is that each subsequent recruiting class outperforms its predecessors when it comes to SAT scores and grades.
For example, players enrolling next season will need to achieve a minimum 2.98 core-course grade point average or a 1020 on the SAT to meet the new guidelines.
Once enrolled, students also have new academic rules to follow including:
- Attending at least nine hours of summer school each year.
- Having class work checked daily as freshmen by a member of the basketball staff (this also applies to any player with a grade-point average of 2.3 or lower).
- Completing required course work before registering for elective courses
- Adhering to a “graduation plan” created to ensure each player is on a path to graduate, even if they leave school early for the NBA or other opportunities.
The report also notes that Calhoun’s contract calls for him to forfeit $100,000 to the University of Connecticut Foundation General Scholarship Fund for any scholarship lost due to an Academic Progress Report penalty.
The school said the academics of the basketball team are improving. It notes in the waiver request that the team attained perfect APR eligibility and retention scores for the Fall 2011 semester. The school also noted that it currently has just one player on the team left from the group that scored low enough to warrant sanctions.
“Although unintended, the implementation of the new criteria has the effect of punishing innocent students for the failures of a past administration, former student-athletes and others no longer employed at the university,” the school writes. “The university’s proposal, however, will allow the institution to bear the brunt of the repercussions, rather than the current student-athletes who made their decision to attend before this new penalty was even conceived.”
The above article appeared on the Yahoo sports blog. It can be found at http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/news?slug=ap-uconn-apr. The article is reprinted here with the express permission of Yahoo Sports, provided that there is no attempt by The United States Sports Academy to use this article for any financial gain. Follow Yahoo! Sports’ college basketball coverage on Twitter.