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NCAA Hits 99 Sports Teams With Academic Penalties

NCAA Hits 99 Sports Teams With Academic Penalties
HBCUs appear disproportionately affected by new rule

Ninety-nine teams at 65 colleges and universities produced failing marks under the NCAA’s new academic measurements and could begin losing scholarships next fall.

Teams that fall below the NCAA’s cutoff line would not be able to replace those scholarships when academically ineligible athletes leave school. The NCAA has limited penalties to a maximum of 10 percent of the team’s scholarships.

Football teams had the worst overall results, followed by baseball and men’s basketball. Nine women’s programs were penalized.

The NCAA also released a list of schools that consistently outperformed the academic standards. Among those were Brown University, Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Notre Dame, the three U.S. military academies and the College of William and Mary.

NCAA officials say they are pleased with the improvement over last year, when it appeared that 6 percent of schools could be sanctioned. Less than 2 percent of all teams were actually penalized because of their academic performance.

NCAA President Myles Brand attributed some of the improvement to a statistical adjustment made for squad size — something that will eventually be phased out.

“Our goal is not to sanction schools but to change behavior, and we are seeing some positive results,” says Brand. “But those schools who were helped by the squad-size adjustment are at risk.”

Sacramento State University had the most teams affected (six) and could face the loss of as many as five athletes. The school could also lose two or three scholarships.

Prairie View A&M University was among the hardest sanctioned schools. It could lose 10 athletes in five sports and be penalized five scholarships in football and eight altogether.

Ten schools could lose more than 17 athletes in football alone.

Only seven teams in the six power conferences — the Atlantic Coast, the Big East, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Southeastern and the Pacific-10 — were sanctioned. Four schools had insufficient scores in baseball, three of whom — Oklahoma State University, Texas Tech and the University of Texas — hail from the Big 12. The other school, the University of Tennessee, is a member of the SEC. West Virginia University, of the Big East, was penalized in men’s wrestling and the University of Mississippi, of the SEC, was sanctioned in men’s indoor track.

DePaul University in the Big East was the only power conference school to be penalized in football or men’s basketball. It could lose one scholarship in men’s basketball.

There is some concern that historically Black colleges and universities were disproportionately affected.

“It is an issue,” Brand says. “A number of those institutions received mission exemptions, but there are a number of institutions that are still not performing as well for student-athletes as they are for the rest of the student body.”

Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for membership services, says 63 teams received waivers, primarily based on mission statements. Sixteen of those waivers were rejected.

Forty-three football teams fell below the cutline, with 23 actually sanctioned. Baseball was second with 40 teams missing the cutline and 21 facing penalties. Men’s basketball had 37 teams failing to make the grade and 17 receiving sanctions.

Brand says baseball has been hit harder because more players leave school early for professional leagues, and because transfer rules do permit baseball players to sit out one season before continuing their college career.

Harsher penalties will be handed out in the future.

Next year, the NCAA will begin sending warning letters to schools whose teams have historically fared poorly in academics. In 2007-2008, those schools could face the loss of scholarships, and in 2008-2009, the penalties could include a ban from postseason tournaments.

Associated Press

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