UConn, Southern take hits in new APR reports

The NCAA has put Connecticut on notice – improve in the

classroom or face tougher penalties.

The Huskies men’s basketball team was one of six BCS teams

sanctioned Tuesday for sub-par marks in the NCAA’s annual Academic

Progress Rates report. The Associated Press reported last week that

UConn will lose two scholarships for the upcoming season because of

the APR report.

And if the grades don’t get better, the Huskies’ punishment

could get worse.

”We are all disappointed in our academic performance and going

forward we are going to attack this in the only way I know how, and

that is to work as hard as possible to get better every day,”

coach Jim Calhoun said in a statement. ”I do know that over the

past year, we have made improvements and are moving in the right

direction.”

To avoid losing more scholarships or practice time, UConn will

have to prove it. And the Huskies weren’t the only school getting

hit Tuesday.

Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., became the first school

to face postseason bans in two programs – men’s basketball and

football – because of academics.

The APR measures classroom performance of student-athletes on

every Division I team. Teams scoring below the 925 cutline in one

year can face immediate penalties. Those scoring below 900 or with

low scores for several years face tougher historical sanctions.

This year’s data covers 2006-07 through 2009-10. A perfect score

is 1,000.

The average APR number for all athletes jumped three points to

970 in the latest report. Baseball (959) and men’s basketball

players (945) each had a five-point increase while the football

score (946) improved by two points.

But the improvement was tempered by two things – a record eight

teams receiving postseason bans and the punishment of a prominent

national champion that went before the NCAA infractions committee

last year and now has seen a one-year drop from 930 to 893 in the

classroom.

”It is disappointing to see that drop at UConn,” said Emmert,

who once served as Connecticut’s chancellor. ”We certainly hope

it’s a one-year drop.”

Since postseason bans became part of the penalty structure in

2008, only four teams have received the punishment.

This year’s group consists of men’s basketball teams at Cal

State-Northridge, Chicago State, Grambling, Louisiana-Monroe and

Southern, and football teams at Idaho State, Southern and Jackson

State, Walter Payton’s alma mater.

No team has ever been given the harshest penalty, a one-year

membership restriction.

The NCAA handed out 58 penalties this year to schools that have

had consistently poor showings over more than one year. These

harshest penalties – postseason bans, practice reductions or

guaranteed scholarship cuts – affected only one BCS conference

team: Arkansas, which will lose one scholarship in men’s

basketball.

Five other BCS teams will lose scholarships only if an equal

number of academically ineligible players leave school. Football

teams at Maryland and Louisville could lose up to three

scholarships. Men’s basketball teams at Georgia Tech and LSU could

each lose one.

A seventh BCS team, Southern Cal men’s basketball, fell below

the cutline at 912, but was not penalized.

UConn has already said it will lose both its scholarships

because two players have left the school in poor academic standing.

The school posted the second-lowest score of any BCS team in the

three major sports: football, men’s basketball and women’s

basketball. Arkansas’ men’s basketball team had an 892. Butler, the

two-time national runner-up, had a perfect 1,000.

UConn’s score also prompted the NCAA to notify the school it was

in danger of facing the harsher historical penalties if the APR

number doesn’t go up next year.

Walter Harrison, president at the University of Hartford and

chairman of the NCAA’s committee on academic performance, said he

plans to meet with UConn’s new president, Susan Herbst, soon and

plans to discuss the classwork.

Emmert is willing to go a step further.

”In our office, we have routinely and would be willing again to

send people to campuses to do things like best practices,” he

said. ”We want to help them understand their relationship with the

NCAA and what we can do to be helpful, and I’m sure they’ve got the

culture there (at UConn) to respond appropriately.”

Other details from the NCAA report:

– Historically black colleges and universities, including

Southern, accounted for 29 of the 58 harshest penalties. Teams at

more than 300 schools were measured in this year’s APR, and only 24

of those were HBCUs.

– Four teams missed the cutline in the big three sports. They

were Jackson State, Prairie View A&M, Southern and Texas

Southern, all members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Nineteen schools had football and men’s basketball teams fall below

the cutline and 10 had both their men’s and women’s basketball

teams miss the mark.

– Colorado, the only BCS school to face scholarship losses in

football and men’s basketball because of last year’s APR scores,

made the cut this time. The Buffaloes had a 929 in football and a

926 in men’s basketball. Syracuse was the only other BCS school

penalized in 2010. Its score improved from 912 to 928 in men’s

basketball.

– When combining the two penalty structures, 103 teams were

penalized, down from 137 last year. Two years ago, the number was

177.