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.
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.