NCAA report may hit schools hard

More than 700 teams fail to make academic grade

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

— NCAA president Myles Brand wants college teams concerned as much about academic scores as final scores. If they aren't, they might be barred from NCAA tournaments.

Brand warned the underachievers Tuesday they could get hit with the NCAA's harshest sanctions - fewer scholarships, reductions in practice and even a postseason ban.

More than 700 of the 6,272 Division I teams fell short of the mandated cut score of 925 to avoid penalties, and 218 were assessed punishments ranging from warning letters to reductions in practice times.

Nearly 150 teams face potential scholarship losses, and another 26 are on the brink of a postseason ban because of poor academics.

As reported previously, Kansas University released its data regarding Academic Progress Rate in March, and the football team's four-year average score of 919 was below the NCAA's penalty-free floor of 925. That, coupled with the Jayhawks having two players leave school in poor academic standing last school year, meant Kansas had to forfeit two scholarships in its 2008 recruiting class.

Kansas administrators appealed the decision, based in part on the team's projected 56 percent graduation rate over the four-year span of the report, but were denied by the NCAA.

Kansas was one of only two BCS football programs - with Hawaii - to lose scholarships.

Kansas State's men's basketball team will lose one scholarship for the 2008-09 academic year.

Kansas State scored 880 on the APR report and was one of eight men's basketball teams from BCS conferences to be penalized. The Wildcats also were one of four teams - with Purdue, Southern California and Tennessee - from the 2008 the NCAA Tournament to receive sanctions.

Kansas State officials blamed the score on the three coaching changes at the school during the four-year span of the report.

"Academic reform is here to stay, and those penalties resemble what we give for major infractions. So these are serious penalties and there are a number of teams that received those," Brand said after releasing this year's Academic Progress Report. "Yes, there are individual institutions who have seen a steady decline (academically) over the last four years, and for them, the situation is dire."