NCAA President Discusses UConn Academics

NEW ORLEANS – The timetable for a final decision regarding Connecticut's eligibility for the 2013 NCAA men's basketball tournament will be determined by the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance, NCAA president Mark Emmert said Thursday. reported Sunday that Emmert, at the tournament's Atlanta regional site, had said that UConn would learn its 2013 fate "within a week to 10 days." That created some confusion, based on earlier comments from an NCAA spokesman who indicated that the CAP would ultimately determine UConn's outcome at its scheduled April meeting – or possibly in July.

During his pre-Final Four press conference at the Superdome, Emmert was asked if he had an update on the UConn situation.

"First of all, I don't want to say I was misquoted, but what I'd said in passing to some folks was there was a possibility that it could be resolved that quickly," Emmert said. "The reality is this is the first time we've gone through this kind of appeal. The committee is going to have to look at it and make a decision. The time frame within which that happens is entirely up to them as they work through it."

Under rules approved in October, a school must have a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average of 900 on the NCAA's annual Academic Progress Rate, which measures the academic performance of athletes.

UConn scored 826 for the 2009-10 school year and is expected to record a score of about 975 for 2010-11. With a two-year average of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5, UConn would not meet requirement and would be ineligible for the 2013 postseason.

Connecticut requested a waiver in January that was rejected by the NCAA in February. UConnd appealed that decision but has not received a response.

If the CAP decides to adjust reporting dates and allow school to use their most recent graduation data, scores from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years would be used. In that case, UConn would qualify for the tournament. The CAP has discussed the change but has not voted.

"The idea of using the most recent APR data is, of course, a valid one in that we want to use the most recent data for which we have comparability across all institutions," Emmert said. "We bring out the APR data as quickly as it's made available to us by each of the schools as they finish up their years. We then bring it together collectively and make it available to the membership.

"That provides or necessitates a lag time in a way that data is collected. So we use the most recent data that's generically available for all schools in describing APR. We're phasing into a 930 target. Next year it will be a 900 target, and that target can be met with two years of data rather than four. When we get to the full implementation two years after that, it will be a 930 on a four-year rolling average, with the four years being intended to smooth out any bumps you might have either one way or the other so that it's a better measure of the long-term academic success of that institution."

Emmert's comments didn't seem to give UConn much hope for a reversal – either through the appeal or for a change in data collection.

"You know," he said. "the APR targets have been in place for a long time. Everyone's known that they're going to have to compete in a world where there's a 920 APR and we just moved it up to a 930. I don't think it's a shock to anyone that it's moved up to a 930.

"Again, the vast majority of schools and teams are performing well above that level. "

As he has before, Emmert stressed that all teams are being asked to produce a 50 percent graduation rate – or risk not participating in championship events.

"That is not a huge demand to make, that half of your students will be on track to graduate," he said.

Junior forward Alex Oriakhi, citing the possibile ineligibility of the Huskies in 2013, asked and was granted his release from UConn. Oriakhi reportedly is considering a transfer to Duke, North Carolina, Missouri, Virginia Tech or Hofstra – among others.

If UConn is ineligible, which seems likely, Oriakhi could transfer and play at a new school next season, rather than sit out a year. Oriakhi was in good academic standing at UConn and committed to the Huskies when he was in 10th grade.

"The issue about someone leaving or staying, I would disagree with your characterization that somebody is being forced to transfer," Emmert said when asked about unintended consequences of the new rules. "I don't think under any circumstance someone gets forced to transfer. If they want to, they can make those decisions."

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