NCAA passes academic reform

    The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved an initial step to reform and improve academic standards regarding collegiate student-athletes on Jan. 10.

    Had the measure been implemented in the 2004-05 academic year, about 30 percent of football teams at the Division I level would have forfeited scholarships instantly, according to the Associated Press.

    The Division I Committee on Academic Performance will issue warnings prior to the conclusion of the 2004-05 academic year to colleges that do not meet the Academic Progress Rate, which is approximately a 50-percent graduation rate over a five year period for student-athletes. The APR is calculated by the number of athletes who attain academic eligibility, satisfy the full-time student status and graduate.

    All men’s and women’s sports will be affected by the APR standards, and by the start of the 2005-06 academic year, all teams must be in compliance. These rules will affect over 5,000 teams at 325 Division I schools.

    The most affected athletic programs will be football, baseball and men’s basketball, where incompliance rates range from 20 to 30 percent, according to NCAA data.

    In an NCAA report, only three of the eight teams in the 2004 Bowl Championship Series would have met the recently passed academic standard: Michigan, Virginia Tech and University of Southern California.

    “This action today is a critical step in our journey to establishing much stronger and significant academic standards for NCAA student athletes,” stated Robert Hemenway, chair of the Board of Directors and Chancellor of the University of Kansas, in an NCAA press release. “The ultimate goal is for our student-athletes to stay on track academically and graduate.”

    Teams that fail to meet APR standards will be issued a one-year suspension on scholarship benefits. If a student-athlete on scholarship who is academically ineligible drops out of school, the scholarship may not be transferred to a new student-athlete for a full year.

    In addition, there is a 10-percent cap on the number of scholarships a team loses when they fail to meet the APR.

    The Board of Directors is currently deciding on “historical penalties,” which are determined by APR scores and the Graduation Success Rate (the number of scholarship student-athletes who graduate each year).

    After three consecutive years of falling below the NCAA academic standards, preseason and postseason competition will be rescinded. A fourth consecutive year of disobedience mandates Division I status revocation. Historical penalties will go into effect in 2006.

    Because of its Division II standing, UCSD is not affected by this measure. Furthermore, UCSD is the only Division II institution that does not offer athletic scholarships, choosing to financially prioritize academics over athletics.

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