NCAA to Weigh Graduation Rules That Would Have Kept UConn From Postseason

Banning schools from the postseason if their players don’t reach a minimum graduation rate will be voted on this week by the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Board of Directors.

NCAA President Mark Emmert, speaking at a Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics meeting in Washington, said the proposal to be considered on Oct. 27 requires an Academic Progress Rate of 900 and could be implemented as early as this season’s men’s basketball tournament. The rate would be increased to 930 -- the equivalent of a 50 percent graduate rate -- in 24 months.

Emmert said if the 900 proposal had been in place last season, the University of Connecticut would have been barred from the men’s basketball tournament that it wound up winning. The Huskies had an APR of 893, according to databases compiled by USA Today and the Associated Press.

“Most schools won’t notice this,” he said of the initial jump to 900. “If (the board) wants to go to 930 right now that’s fine, but there will be a lot of collateral damage.”

Emmert said he is trying to speed up the adoption of new rules to keep up with the changing college landscape.

“We need to act with some dispatch,” he said.

The board also will consider a proposal to allow conferences to increase their scholarships by $2,000 to more closely approach the full cost of attendance.

This money could be used for a flight home at Christmas, a pizza with friends or to help with the purchase of shampoo and other incidentals.

Major Conferences

Emmert said he expected all six major conferences -- Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-12, Southeastern conference -- “to adopt this right away. They have the revenue to do it.” He wants to make sure that schools aren’t dropping scholarships or sports to pay the additional cost.

Emmert said he’ll also ask the board to allow schools to offer multiyear grants, rather than annual scholarships. This would protect an athlete from having a scholarship taken away.

Other issues being discussed include revamping the NCAA rule book. Emmert said the rules are “laughably detailed” and don’t focus on the big picture.

“I and other university presidents were devastated” by rules violations at schools in the past year, Emmert said. “The lack of integrity, the scandals, all of that was annoying to the extreme. We recognize a lot of problems were self-inflicted. We have in place a set of rules on the wrong things.”

Emmert said the NCAA rulebook commits three pages to detailing the size of the envelopes that can be used to mail athletes promotional materials.

No Cream Cheese

He added that NCAA rules sometimes allow schools to provide recruits a snack, but not a meal. A bagel qualifies as a snack, he said, but once cream cheese is added, it becomes a meal and a potential violation.

Some parts of the rule book need to be re-written in “whole cloth” to focus on integrity issues, he said.

Other ideas Emmert is considering are shortening the seasons of some sports, reducing international travel and limiting the size of athletic department staffs that aren’t directly involved in coaching.

He also has a proposal requiring recruited athletes who fail to meet certain academic standards to sit out their freshman year and focus on class work.

To contact the reporter on this story: Curtis Eichelberger in Washington at ceichelberge@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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