If there was any doubt before Thursday it's crystal clear now: the UConn men's basketball program is in trouble. The NCAA announced that it had rejected the university's appeal and with it, its 2013 NCAA Tournament hopes. The issue: low Academic Progress Rates (APR), which the NCAA uses to determine, well, academic progress. And according to the scores, UConn has been underwhelming, at least until institutional changes were made.
The program has had perfect APR scores for the 2010-11 season and the first semester of 2011. The problem: the NCAA doesn't include the most recent scores which, in UConn's case, would make them eligible for postseason play in 2013. Instead, scores from 2007-08 through 2010-11 are used.
UConn athletic director Warde Manuel told reporters via conference call that the NCAA's swiftness in implementing the APR rules is unprecedented.
“It’s a frustrating time for me. What I am totally frustrated [about] is really how they have implemented this rule without notification of its membership. I never, ever remember, and nobody can tell me of any legislation that has been made effective retroactively and has this kind of effect on student-athletes.”
As to why the NCAA isn't interested in revisiting the method for calculating the APR is unclear but the fact remains that the Huskies aren't without blame.
“While we as a University and coaching staff clearly should have done a better job academically with our men’s basketball student-athletes in the past," Jim Calhoun said through a statement released by the university. "The changes we have implemented have already had a significant impact and have helped us achieve the success we expect in the classroom. We will continue to strive to maintain that success as we move forward.”
So now what? The school can hold out hope the NCAA revisits the matter in the coming months, rejiggers the APR calculation process, and UConn would then be eligible. Outside of that, it looks like the Huskies will be on the outside looking in next season. It gets worse: because of a rule passed at last month's Big East Tournament, any team ineligible for the Big Dance won't be allowed to play in the conference tourney, either. As it stands, the only title the Huskies are in the running for next season: the Big East regular-season title.