APR isn't A-OK

Tennessee's basketball program surrendered a scholarship last year due to the NCAA's new APR (academic progress rate) guidelines. The recent transfers of Duke Crews and Ramar Smith could've cost the Vols another scholarship if either had been ineligible at the time of his departure.

The APR is a growing concern for a lot of basketball programs, not just Tennessee's. Pearl believes the folks who govern college athletics significantly underestimated the impact the new academic guidelines.

"I don't think the NCAA realized how dramatically it would affect the landscape of college basketball," the Vol coach said on an SEC teleconference earlier today. "We are by far the most overly legislated game in college sports."

College football players routinely wait two or three years for a chance to win a starting job. Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who spent the past three years biding his time behind starter Erik Ainge, is an excellent example of this mindset. Conversely, college basketball players tend to be more inclined toward instant gratification. If a guy projects to spend more than one year on the bench, he's probably going to look for greener pastures. Should he transfer while his academics are cloudy, he's going to cost his original school a scholarship under APR guidlines.

Pearl is one of many NCAA coaches who consider this rule somewhat unfair. The Vol coach believes most players transfer to improve their chances of playing, not to appease a coach who no longer considers them valuable.

"I think there is an incredible misnomer that coaches try to run players off," Pearl said. "And the word 'transfer' has become negative. Transferring is a good thing. People transfer in jobs all the time. You find a better place ... and yet we get penalized for certain things like that."

Pearl believes NCAA President Miles Brand recognizes that the APR system is flawed and "is trying to tweak it."

College coaches are offering numerous suggestions they hope will provide some damage control regarding players who transfer out of their programs. In the meantime, Pearl admittedly plans his coaching and recruiting strategies with the APR foremost in his mind.

"We're working on it," the Vol coach said. "I'm very, very mindful of it.


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