APR Won't Keep Huskies From NCAAs

So remember all the talk about the NCAA, new APR regulations, and teams missing the NCAA Tournament for poor APR performance? Turns out, it was a misunderstanding. This is good news for the UConn men's team, which had an APR score of 893, just below the 900 threshold for avoiding sanctions.

The USA Today first reported that "Teams could be banned from participating in this year's March Madness if they don't reach a new academic threshold, and that threshold could be determined as soon as Friday." And after what must have been a busy day down at NCAA headquarters, NCAA president Mark Emmert said on Tuesday that any changes to the academic requirements for postseason play wouldn't go into effect until 2013.

The Huskies' dream of defending their title remains intact, at least for now.

Emmert also spoke about graduation rates. UConn probably wishes he hadn't. Via the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore:

When the NCAA released new results of its Graduation Success Rate (GSR), there was more bad academic news for UConn. The newest figures for freshmen entering school between 2001-04 placed UConn's graduation rate in men's basketball at 25 percent, tied for sixth lowest among 338 Division I schools. Though Emmert proudly pointed out overall increases nearly across the board in collegiate athletics, UConn's GSR in men's basketball fell six points from a year ago.

This is not necessarily new, but underscores an older problem. UConn's most recent Academic Progress Rate of 893 is indicative of a graduation rate well below 50 percent. The NCAA board of directors has approved 930 as the new standard for APR, which indicates a 50 percent graduation rate, and will vote this week on the timetable for implementing it.

Coach Jim Calhoun gets defensive whenever he's asked about APR scores or graduation rates, usually pointing to his high-profile program suffering from its own success; the good players leave early for the NBA and that counts against the Huskies when the APR and GSR are calculated. Of course, every top-20 team can make the same claim, though many of them have very little trouble meeting the minimum academic standards set forth by the NCAA.

"What we want to make sure is student-athletes at all of our institutions across all of our sports are students, first and foremost," Emmert said. "The APR requirement for participation in postseason play is a wonderful motivator."

The Huskies have two years to make sure they're properly motivated. The university's plan: (via via Amore):

  • Ensure that student-athletes who leave to pursue professional opportunities are academically eligible as they depart the university.
  • Actively encourage former student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility to return to school to complete their degree programs by utilizing the National Consortium for Academic and Sport Degree Completion program.
  • In order to make significant progress toward graduation, continuing student-athletes will be required to enroll in a minimum of nine credit hours during summer school.
  • Provide enhanced academic support services in the summer prior to initial full-time enrollment and the fall semester of the student-athlete's freshman year.
  • Decrease the number of student-athletes who transfer from the institution with eligibility remaining.
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