Orlando, Fla. An annual study of the schools in the men’s NCAA tournament shows a slight increase in teams that fall below graduation rate standards.
The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport said in its report Monday that eight teams that made the 2014 men’s bracket fall below the NCAA-mandated Academic Progress Rate score of 930, equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate. Last year six teams didn’t reach that benchmark.
Kansas University’s team is the only squad in the field of 68 to have a perfect APR and graduation rate.
Study author Richard Lapchick said while academic reforms overall have led to positive change, he urged tougher measures. He would like to see the NCAA’s four-year standard raised to a graduation rate equivalent to 60 percent.
This year 88 percent of the teams in the men’s tournament currently graduate at least 60 percent of their players.
Currently, teams scoring below a 925 APR can lose up to 10 percent of their scholarships. Teams can also be subject to penalties for poor academic performance over time.
Teams in this year’s field that would be subject to NCAA-imposed sanctions that could keep them from postseason play are: Cal Poly (925), Coastal Carolina (921), North Carolina Central (903), Oklahoma State (928), Providence (915), Texas Southern (900), Connecticut (897) and Oregon (918).
Beginning with 2012-13 championships, teams must earn a minimum 900 four-year APR or a 930 average over the most recent two years to be eligible for NCAA championships.
In 2014, seven teams fell below 925, compared with three teams in 2013. The APR was developed by the NCAA in 2004 as a way to improve graduation rates. It is a four-year rolling average of academic performance that takes into account academic eligibility and retention.
Connecticut is back in the field following a one-year NCAA tournament ban last year after failing to meet APR minimums. UConn was one of 10 schools barred from last year’s postseason.
“The loss of scholarships and being banned from postseason play is the thing coaches dread most,” Lapchick said. “I was glad to see UConn made such a good improvement. I can’t attribute it all to (the tournament ban), but I’m sure they’re going to do everything in their power to put students on campus that can have the greatest success academically.”