Morgan State's men's basketball team is losing two more scholarships for falling below NCAA standards on players' academic progress, the school and the NCAA said Wednesday.
Morgan State's football team is being stripped of 3.15 scholarships.
The one-time reductions come because the teams fell below the cutoff in the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores, measuring how well schools keep players on track to graduate. The school said it has an improvement plan in place.
The Maryland men's basketball team's score rose for the third year in a row, and the school said it has graduated 12 of the program's past 14 seniors. The team's 913 APR remained below the 925 cutoff, but Maryland said it avoided penalties because players who did not receive graduation or retention points had already exhausted their eligibility.
The NCAA has often said its goal is not punishment, but rather to prod schools to improve. It said 137 teams at 80 schools were penalized this year, compared with 177 teams at 107 schools last year. The APR Division I average is 967, up three points from last year.
Maryland's football team's score was 929. The average for public universities was 937.
The Maryland women's lacrosse team, which recently won the national championship, earned a perfect score of 1,000.
Nationally, Syracuse and Colorado were penalized for inadequate showings in the APR, which gives points to athletes for remaining enrolled and academically eligible. Portland State was declared ineligible for next season's NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Syracuse said in a prepared statement that its men's basketball team "scored 912, below the necessary 925, for the first time in program history due to the early departure of several student-athletes." The university said it expected the two-scholarship penalty and made the cuts during 2009-10.
Colorado also said it had already taken its penalty: a reduction of five football scholarships and one men's basketball scholarship.
Nearly all the penalized schools were from outside the power conferences. Smaller schools have often complained that they don't have the resources others do to keep student-athletes on track.
Among Maryland schools, UMES said it would lose the equivalent of one scholarship for baseball.
"We've been reduced essentially a scholarship and had our practice times reduced. We take this APR seriously," UMES athletic director Keith Davidson said.
"The majority of the points we lost are retention points, not eligibility points. Eligibility is not a problem," Davidson said. He said the baseball team's grade-point average of 3.2 was the highest of the university's men's teams.
Coppin State's baseball and men's basketball teams also fell below the cutoff score, according to the NCAA's figures. Athletic department officials could not be reached Wednesday night to discuss what, if any, penalties might be assessed. Two years ago, the teams scored below the cutoff but weren't penalized. Schools sometimes avoid penalties based on various factors, such as if a team's academic performance eclipses that of the general student body.
The latest NCAA calculations cover the academic years from 2005-06 through 2008-09.
Morgan State's men's basketball team had already lost one scholarship last year. In March, the team advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
Losing scholarships in basketball, even for just one season, is more damaging than in football because the rosters are so much smaller. The penalties mean that Morgan State will be able to offer 11 scholarships in basketball instead of the usual 13, according to the school.
"We really do feel we have the right combination of retention and academic improvement plans in place," said Clinton Coleman, Morgan State's communications director. "We're confident we can make the necessary improvements."
Part of Morgan State's problem, Coleman said, has been making sure that incoming transfers understand the number of credits they can transfer in. "When they don't understand, that can lead to [eligibility] problems," he said.