UConn Could be Banned in 2013

The Connecticut men's basketball program is well on its way to becoming the poster child for academic reform under new NCAA president Mark Emmert.

As expected, on Thursday, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a package of sweeping reforms that included the phasing in of a new Academic Progress Rate cutline over four years. The rule change won't keep UConn from defending its national championship in the 2012 NCAA tournament, but it could lead to the Huskies being banned in 2013.

Earlier this week there was an erroneous report that the board would approve the use of a 900 score beginning in 2011-12. Instead, the board approved the move starting in 2012-13.

According to the Associated Press, the current process for collecting and reporting graduation data will continue, but the NCAA is interested in speeding up the process. That could result in more current data being used to determine eligibility.

"For access to postseason competition in 2012-13 and 2013-14, teams must achieve a 900 multiyear APR or a 930 average over the most recent two years to be eligible," NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in an email to the AP. "For 2012-13, those years would be 2009-10 and 2010-11. For 2013-14, those years would be 2010-11 and 2011-12."

The UConn men scored 826 for the 2009-10 year and lost two scholarships as a result. The number for 2010-11 doesn't become official until next May but UConn officials expect an improvement - possibly to about 975.

That would give UConn a two-year score of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5. Both numbers would be short of the requirement.

"The University of Connecticut has received clarification today that the two APR years for determining eligibility for the 2012-13 NCAA Championships will be 2009-10 and 2010-11," the university said in a statement Thursday evening. "As all APR information is made public by the NCAA annually in May, we will have no further comment until the official data is released."

The board also adopted a measure to include the rule in bowl licensing agreements, meaning it would apply to the 120-member Football Bowl Subdivision -- the only sport the NCAA for which does not sanction a postseason tourney.

But UConn, because of its status as defending national champions, has been in the headlines all week. USA Today columnist Christine Brennan took the Huskies to task and compared the men to the UConn women, with a graduation rate of 90 percent that proves "dribbling a basketball and studying for a test don't have to be mutually exclusive endeavors in the Nutmeg State."

Brennan also suggested putting a grade corresponding to the graduation rate of each school on a uniform patch worn throughout the tournament or bowl game.

"Those schools at the very bottom, including the UConn men, would wear an F," she wrote.

The Board of Directors also approved a package that gives conferences the option of adding more money to scholarship offers, schools the opportunity to award scholarships for multiple years, imposes tougher academic standards on recruits and changes the summer basketball recruiting model.

Conferences will now vote on whether to add $2,000 in spending money to scholarship offers. Previously, scholarships covered the costs of tuition, room and board, books and fees. But NCAA President Mark Emmert came out earlier this week in favor of increasing the allowable money, which the NCAA calls full cost-of-attendance.

BCS leagues are expected to quickly approve the changes, but it's unclear how many other conferences can afford it. All additional funding in men's sports would have to be matched equally in women's sports because of Title IX rules.

Individual schools also will have the option of awarding scholarships on a multiple-year basis or keeping the current model, which is done year-by-year.

In addition, the board agreed to increase eligibility requirements for incoming freshmen and junior college transfers. Both groups needed a 2.0 GPA to be eligible. Now, high school grads will need to maintain a 2.3 GPA in the 16 core courses and take 10 of those core classes before their senior year. Junior college players will have to maintain a 2.5 GPA and the NCAA will limit the number of physical education credits that will count toward eligibility.

The board also adopted a new summer basketball recruiting model. Under the new measure, coaches would get four evaluation days in April and 12 in July. Previously, April was a dead period and coaches had 20 evaluation days in July. Coaches also will be permitted more contact with their own players during the summer and will benefit by the elimination of a text messaging ban.

Reports from The Associated Press included in this story.

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