Official word wasn't to come until Tuesday, May 24, but according to various reports, the UConn men's basketball team will lose two scholarships for the 2011-2012 season due to substandard Academic Progress Rates over a four-year period beginning in 2006.
For all that went right for the Huskies in the postseason, the looming possibility that the program could face academic sanctions, along with other off-court distractions.
The NCAA first lowered the hammer in February, slapping UConn with three year's probation for recruiting violations, including suspending coach Jim Calhoun for the first three conference games in 2011-2012, and reducing scholarships from 13 to 12 for three academic years.
In March, days before the Huskies would begin their NCAA Tournament run to a championship, Inside Higher Ed released its annual Academic Performance Tournament bracket, which was described as "…our take on what the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament would look like if teams advanced based on their outcomes in the classroom."
UConn was knocked out in the first round by Bucknell.
The Hartford Courant reported at the time, that of the 68 schools in the 2010-2011 tournament, UConn's multi-year APR of 930 ranked 56th. Ratings below 925 can lead to penalties that include the loss of scholarships.
According to reports accidentally released on the internet Friday, the Huskies' multi-year APR is 893, 32 points below the cut-off for avoiding penalties.
This means that the Huskies will have just 10 scholarships for the fall. With Jamal Coombs-McDaniel transferring, the team has eight scholarship players set to return, and incoming freshman Ryan Boatright makes nine. A lack of depth made worse by the departures of Kemba Walker (NBA Draft) and Coombs-McDaniel means that the Huskies have every intention of using that last scholarship.
The team's low APR will also cost Calhoun. When renegotiating his last contract, UConn thought enough of Academic Progress Rate to include a clause that stipulated that Calhoun had to donate $100,000 to the UConn Foundation General Scholarship Fund if the Huskies APR drops below 925. His contract also guarantees him a three-month bonus for winning the national championship … but it was contingent on meeting APR standards, which means he won't collect the extra $87,500 for the Huskies' title run in April.
Last Friday night Calhoun, in Sarasota, Florida attending the sixth annual Dick Vitale Gala to raise funds for The V Foundation for Cancer Research, told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy that "Right now I can honestly tell you I'm 55/45 [on coaching in the fall]." No idea if that changes in light of the news that the Huskies will be down two scholarships.
As for how the men's basketball team compares to other sports at UConn, the Courant's Mike Anthony writes "that the women's basketball APR was 990 for the four-year period, including 1,000 for 2009-10. Football was at 953 for the four years and 959 for 2009-10." Adding: "The men's basketball team was the only sport at the school to fall below the 925 mark. With early departures for the NBA and transfers to other schools common, Division I men's basketball teams at many universities are most likely to post low scores."
Which is true, it's just that there are plenty of big-time basketball programs that managed to meet the 925 threshold.