January 12, 2005
NCAA academic reform

Some long overdue reforms are looming for NCAA Division I member institutions.

On the last day of the NCAA convention, the Division I Board of Directors approved the Academic Progress Rate (APR), the standard teams in every sport must reach beginning in the 2005-06 school year to avoid scholarship reductions.

Schools will receive warning reports in the next few weeks that let them know which of their teams fall below the APR set by the Division I Committee on Academic Performance. The rate is based roughly on a 50-percent graduation rate over a five-year period.

The Academic Performance Program applies to every men's and women's sport -- more than 5,000 teams at the 325 Division I schools.


The so-called "contemporaneous penalties" are considered rehabilitative in nature and expected to serve as warnings for teams with poor academic performance. Such penalties could begin after December 2005.

Another phase of the program will be historical penalties, which will be more severe and directed at schools with continued problems. [The] committee is still working on the penalties, and they will have to be approved by NCAA directors later.


The APR will be based on the number of student-athletes on each team who achieve eligibility and return to campus full-time each term. There will also be a longer-term graduation success rate.

Beginning next fall, teams that fall under a minimum APR will lose scholarships when players who are academically ineligible leave the school. Such scholarships can't be re-awarded for a year.


Teams that continue to have problems will be subject to the more severe penalties once the "historical penalties" are put into place.

Consecutive years of falling below certain academic standards would lead to recruiting and further scholarship restrictions. A third straight year could lead to being banned from preseason or postseason games, and a fourth would affect Division I membership status.

I've long felt that certain minimum academic standards should be a requirement for postseason play in the NCAA, so I like the overall direction of these reforms. I'm actually a little surprised there hasn't been more of a hue and cry about them, since a fair number of schools would be affected by them right now.

More details in this DMN story. Also on the table for later on is a change to the requirement that a Division I-A school must maintain and average attendance of 15,000 for football to stay in Div I-A.

When the board meets in April to vote on legislation that came through the convention, it also will reconsider amending or eliminating a 2-year-old bylaw that went into effect last fall requiring Division I-A football programs to average at least 15,000 in attendance.

The first failure to do so would put a school on a 10-year probationary period. A second failure during the period would result in a bowl ban. A third failure would result in reclassification to I-AA.

Five schools – four in the Mid-American Conference plus Middle Tennessee State of the Sun Belt Conference – unofficially fell below that figure last season.

The closest of the 10 Division I-A programs in Texas to falling below the requirement was North Texas (15,184). Rice was next (17,652), followed by SMU (17,706) and Houston (21,167).

The board also will look at adding rules to help football programs currently in I-AA. That could include allowing I-A schools to count victories over I-AA schools against the six needed to be bowl eligible.

That last bit is a sop to the big conferences and their non-elite schools who need every non-conference win they can get to fill out those seventh and eighth guaranteed bowl spots. The good of the other two items outweigh that one by enough to keep me from gritching too much about it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 12, 2005 to Other sports | TrackBack

I believe each of the service academies has a total enrollment of around 4,000. The 15,000 rule would swamp them right out of division 1A.

Posted by: etc. on January 12, 2005 2:31 PM

"Will the last team left unpunished in the NCAA Division 1 please... oh, who are we kidding. Leave the lights on, Rice. Reading in the dark will just hurt your eyes."

Posted by: Laurence Simon on January 12, 2005 2:58 PM

On one level the idea makes sense, but there are a lot of holes in the previous methods used to determine graduation rate. In the past, players that have transferred from school A to school B in good academic standing to pursue more playing time have counted negatively against the graduation rate even if they completed their coursework in a satisfactory time at school B.

Likewise, players leaving early for a professional career count against a school's graduation rate if they do not continue their studies and obtain a degree in the alloted time.

The same goes for players that the NCAA declares ineligble for contact with agents.

I'm not sure the schools should lose scholarships as result. Who is really hurt by these rules? Sure it hurts the school's athletic programs but only marginally so. But the overall effect is that fewer scholarships will be available for students who may desperately need assistance to have a shot at a college education.

Don't get me wrong I like the theory, but I'm just not so sure about the practice.

As for the 15,000 attendance requirement to remain in D-1A, schools have been very creative in working around that rule. Case in point, this year the University of Louisiana - Monroe played the University of Arkansas at War Memeorial Stadium in Little Rock. Despite the fact that Arkansas routinely plays other "home" games in Little Rock, this one was officially a "home" game for ULM...despite the fact that it was filled to the gills with Arkansas fans.

Since it was not at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, the Little Rock venue was technically a neutral site with ULM assigned as the home team. Without the Little Rock game, ULM averaged 14717 at their 4 home dates, just below the 15000 cutoff. But when you add in the 55652 from the Little Rock game, the official average shoots to almost 23000.

Posted by: Patrick on January 12, 2005 2:59 PM

I think my alma mater (San Jose State) should just drop football, and as a long time fan it pains me to say that. The program has become a disgrace and a laughing stock.

And even when it impresses -- by taking Boise to two overtimes -- they still find a way to kick you in the gut in a game they should have won (even most Boise fans admitted that).

D1-AA isn't economically feasible for some of these schools who rely on "bodybag" games for big payouts to finance all of their athletic program.

Posted by: Tim on January 12, 2005 4:37 PM