99 feel sting of NCAA reforms

Scholarship losses set at Morgan, UMES

March 02, 2006|By KEN MURRAY AND CHRISTIAN EWELL | KEN MURRAY AND CHRISTIAN EWELL,SUN REPORTERS

In the first wave of sanctions under the NCAA's academic reform program, 99 teams from 65 Division I schools are scheduled to lose scholarships.

The NCAA released its Academy Progress Rate report yesterday, and the trends were easily discernible.

Football drew the most sanctions (23 teams were penalized) for poor academic performance, although no major programs made the hit list. Baseball (21 teams) and men's basketball (17) were the next-most penalized.

Small schools - and most notably predominantly black institutions - took most of the penalties. Nine of 21 Division I black schools stand to lose scholarships, including Morgan State (women's volleyball) and UMES (men's basketball).

FOR THE RECORD - The athletic director at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore was misidentified in an article in the Sports section yesterday. The acting director of athletics is Keith Davidson.
The Sun regrets the errors.

Even so, Myles Brand, president of the NCAA, said in a conference call that these numbers represented progress, while admitting more improvement was needed. Last year's APR figures indicated 350 schools were in line to face the loss of scholarships.

Whether or not schools take the penalty next season or the following one depends on the number of scholarships already allocated for next season.

"Our goal is not to sanction schools, but to change behavior," Brand said, "and we are seeing some positive results."

The program rewards points for academic eligibility and the retention of student-athletes for each team. A minimum score of 925 out of 1,000 is required to pass.

Maryland cleared the APR bar in all sports, led by men's indoor and outdoor track and women's gymnastics, both of which scored a perfect 1,000. Men's basketball and football came in at 949 and 947, respectively.

Less than 2 percent of all Division I teams drew sanctions, but several more were able to escape penalty because of a statistical adjustment made for squad size. Those schools received waivers that were related to institutional mission after failing to reach the minimum.

"Those institutions need to get better quick," said Walter Harrison, chairman of the NCAA committee on academic performance. "In future years, those adjustments get smaller and then go away."

Richard Lapchick, who runs the University of Central Florida's graduate program in sports business management, called the APR program "the most important program the NCAA ever did in terms of academics and athletics."

"The fact that we've started is of great significance. Can we make it better? Probably. Is it the best we could probably hope for right now? Probably that, too. [But] there's no area in higher education where we can't get better."

Lapchick views the inclusion of nine predominantly black institutions in the sanctions as a financial consideration that will have to be remedied.

"Part of what that says is that historically black colleges and universities are so underfunded and have such serious financial woes that when the NCAA announced the program, other schools were able to put resource packages together as support programs. But black institutions might not have been able to do that."

Lapchick suggested one solution might be to earmark money from the NCAA's various tournaments to help underfunded colleges supply those support programs.

Brand acknowledged concern.

"Yes, it is an issue," he said. "A number of those institutions received mission exemptions. We need to take into account the student body and other financial concerns."

Locally, the Morgan State women's volleyball team will lose one scholarship for the 2006 season after a score of 848, more than 75 points below the required mark. The UMES men's basketball team will lose two scholarships after earning a score of 811. UMES will take the penalty next season.

Floyd Kerr, athletic director at Morgan State, said the women's volleyball team has done well academically, but was hurt by one athlete who faltered during the 2004-05 school year.

Despite the subpar score, Kerr said the APR method of judging teams' academic progress was better than the federal graduation rates that came out in January. Because the APR data comes from the previous academic year, it acts as instant feedback for schools, whereas the graduation data takes longer to take shape.

"You were working with your kids now, but then you would wait six years to find out how you did," Kerr said of federal graduation data. "Now, we're able to correct things in time."

Nelson Townsend, athletic director at UMES, said the men's basketball score can be attributed to the coaching change from Thomas Trotter to Larry Lessett during the summer of 2004, leading to anticipated departures.

If a player leaves, the school loses a point for retention and loses another point if the player doesn't leave in good academic standing.

"It doesn't reflect on our commitment to academics so much as the change in the coaching situation," Townsend said. "When that happens, you will lose people."

Other schools - Coppin State and Towson- also had men's basketball teams that fell below the 925 standard. Neither was subject to penalties because of an exemption that will expire next year.

In revenue sports, Navy and UMBC were the schools with teams that finished in the top 10 percent of programs, nationally, in their respective sports. The Midshipmen earned recognition in men's basketball, women's basketball and football. The Retrievers finished in the top 10 percent of men's basketball programs.

ken.murray@baltsun.com

christian.ewell@baltsun.com

Lost scholarships

The Division I-A schools that lost the most scholarships in football and basketball based on the Academic Progress Rate report released yesterday:

*-Maximum of two basketball scholarships could have been lost.

Football

Temple 9

New Mexico State 6

Toledo 6

Hawaii 5

Middle Tennessee State 5

Western Michigan 5

Buffalo 3

Northern Illinois 2

Basketball*

Cal Poly-SLO 2

Centenary 2

East Carolina 2

Hampton 2

Jacksonville 2

Kent State 2

New Mexico State 2

Texas State 2

UMES 2

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