Men's Basketball Takes APR Scholarship Hit

The Ohio State men's basketball program had to face the music Wednesday afternoon when the NCAA announced that it had docked the Buckeyes two scholarships for the upcoming season as part of its Academic Progress Rate report. The news, which will move the Buckeyes down to 11 scholarships next season, was not unexpected, though.

As expected, the Ohio State men's basketball program has been docked two scholarships for the upcoming season by the NCAA as part of the Academic Progress Rate numbers released Wednesday afternoon.

Men's basketball posted a four-year APR score of 911, which falls below the mark of 925 necessary to avoid NCAA penalties. The score of 911 is a two-point increase from last season's total of 909.

A score of 925 roughly correlates to a graduation rate of around 60 percent.

The men's basketball program was eligible to have been docked at least one scholarship last season because the four-year APR was below 925 and the team had an "0-for-2" player in Greg Oden, but a waiver was granted when Ohio State submitted an academic improvement plan for the program.

Portions of that plan instituted by the Student-Athlete Support Services Office (SASSO) included assigning a sport-specific academic counselor to men's basketball, traveling that counselor to midweek games and the creation of mandatory meetings between student-athletes and their advisors on a quarterly basis.

A year ago, Ohio State faculty athletics representative John Bruno said that it would be a "long shot" for the Buckeyes to avoid a penalty this year after Kosta Koufos left for the NBA. Koufos left classes after the drop out date in the middle of the quarter, giving him an "0-for-2," a situation in which he did not successfully complete an academic term and did not return for the next one.

OSU will be forced to make due in 2009-10 with just 11 scholarships, the number of scholarship players the Buckeyes have who are expected to return from the past season's roster. There are no recruits signed to national letters of intent for the upcoming season.

The school did not have any other sports fall below the mark of 925. Notably, the football program's multi-year APR of 968 qualifies it for the 80th to 90th percentile of programs tracked in the sport and is an increase from last year's total of 942. The mark is third in the Big Ten behind Penn State's total of 976 and Northwestern's 973.

"The overall degree of academic success within our athletics programs is a collective measure of the determination of our student-athletes, the value systems of our coaches and the quality academic support provided by SASSO," Bruno said in a press release.

The baseball, women's basketball, men's tennis and women's cross country programs were given public recognition awards by the NCAA on April 22 after the squads finished in the top 10 percent of their respective sports. Tennis and cross country checked in with perfect totals of 1,000, while women's basketball was at 993 and baseball at 987.

The rifle program may have set the record for a one-year increase, though, by going from 893 last year to 949 this year.

Ohio State's APR document can be accessed here.

According to the NCAA, the average four-year overall APR score jumped three points to 964. Four-year APRs for three major men's sports – football, basketball and baseball – have all been raised over the past year.

"This is very positive information," said Walter Harrison, chair of the Committee on Academic Performance and president of the University of Hartford. "We should all take great satisfaction that a lot of work over a lot of years by a lot of people has resulted in the increased academic performance of student-athletes. Nothing happens overnight; it happens gradually."

In other Big Ten news, Minnesota's football program was docked three scholarships as expected. Basketball in the Hoosier State took a hit, as Purdue will be without one and Indiana was given a public notice but not penalized two scholarships because it applied those losses to last season.

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