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New NCAA Restrictions

The NCAA has approved a preliminary new rule that would penalize teams when their players do not stay academically eligible. Basically, the new rules stipulate that each men's and women's team competing in Division I will be judged upon two broad criteria: 1. an Academic Performance Rate (APR) (to measure how athletes are doing in the short run) and 2. a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) (to measure how athletes are doing in the long run). Although the formulas that determine these rates have not been made fully public, USA Today has the following description in this article:

• Academic Progress Rate: Every sports team will establish an annual APR. Individual scholarship athletes will account for two points per school term, earning one for remaining academically eligible for competition and one for remaining at the school or graduating.

• New graduation rate: The NCAA will compile a new graduation rate, different and more accurate than the rate now computed by the federal government. Unlike the federal rate, it will take transfer athletes into account, not penalizing those who move to another school or into a professional draft if they're academically eligible at the time they leave.


Schools will find out later this month or early next month how they fared under the new guidelines and they will start feeling penalties next academic year. According to the USA Today article, the penalties are:

• Penalties are progressive. A first failure to meet the measures will result in a public warning. A second will subject a team to scholarship and/or recruiting restrictions. A third failure will subject the team to a ban on preseason and postseason competition. A fourth failure will subject the school's athletic program to restricted membership in the NCAA, barring all its teams from postseason competition.

Further failures could cause the team to lose its NCAA membership status - in essence, a death penalty. What would you like for your last meal and where would you like to be buried?

The new rules, indeed any stiffening of the academic rules, favor the schools that already have a good academic reputation and gives them a competitive advantage on the playing field (and in the recruiting wars). In addition, schools with a high demand for sports are more likely to be hurt by the restrictions because of the relatively high rent they obtain from recruiting and keeping an academically risky student (relative to low demand schools).

One thing that is interesting is the new rule regarding how transfer students and players who leave for professional sports are statistically treated. In the past, an athlete who left the school in good academic standing was treated just like an athlete who dropped out when it came to calculating graduation statistics. Now, as long as players leave in good academic standing, their decision to leave does not affect the school’s graduation rate. I’ve looked at several articles on this issue today and I couldn’t find any mention of how these sorts of players affect the APR. In any case, the new way of calculating a school’s graduation rate helps out the schools which frequently have players leave their programs for professional opportunity.

For more information and some other links, see this article at HoyaSaxa.com.