Are APR, scholie losses a long term hit?

A DIEHARD COUGAR FAN I was talking to the other day was lamenting the eight lost scholarships WSU was penalized for falling below the APR. He didn't know two had already been applied to the current academic year, meaning WSU will lose six this coming year, not eight. He also didn't realize most schools don't carry the max of 85 players each and every year. Take Wazzu's in-state rival, for example.

It's escaped notice by and large but Washington, apparently, used less scholies last year than the Cougs will use this year with the Academic Progress Rate penalty. According to the article in the Seattle Times, the UW opened the season last year with 77 on scholarship.

Don't misunderstand this.

Washington State's loss of scholarships for this coming year is a hit. It's a challenge anytime you have less to work with than the schools you're competing against for wins and bowl games.

But -- and specifically related to on the field -- there are also some misleading figures being thrown around, and some premature conclusions being drawn of late.

Indeed, the particular brand of spin about what this will do to the WSU program looks to be overstating the long term significance provided -- and this is the kicker -- things start to go Washington State's way next year around this time.

And there are reasons to think they will do just that.

While it's possible Washington State could put up a monster APR score next year, more likely is a scenario of being under the benchmark again -- the 874 mark for the 2006-07 academic year just about ensures the Cougs will fall below the four year average score of 925 next May.

For schools below 925, they are subject to scholarship losses for each student-athlete who was academically ineligible and didn't stay at the school. But what should be noted here, and with more mention than it is currently being given in most quarters, is that Washington State made the strategic decision not to appeal the penalties this year.

That will almost certainly not be the case next year, provided WSU does indeed fall below the benchmark, when the 2007-08 academic score is figured into the four year average.

And there are reasons a WSU appeal would be looked upon favorably by the NCAA. Why? Progress.

First, Washington State would as part of any appeals process present their plan that is in place to rise above and stay above the 925 rolling average. Expect it to be comprehensive. Also expect it to have already shown dividends -- it is unlikely in the extreme that WSU would again next year have eight academically ineligible student-athletes who were not retained.

And Paul Wulff has put together a solid academic track record during his time at Eastern, posting a four year APR of 940, which would certainly be taken into account during any potential WSU appeal next year.

Put that together and there's a decent chance Washington State wouldn't be docked any scholarships next May even if they were still below the APR benchmark. Because they would be able to show clear progress plus a solid plan to continue that progress.

Now also consider that it's been reported Washington State had 56 players last week currently on scholarship, 23 who will enroll in the fall, making it 79 student-athletes for next year and appx. 18 seniors-to-be on scholarship. If Wazzu loses one more scholarship player to academic ineligibility, there would be 60 on scholarship at this time next year.

Add in a recruiting class of 25 next February, and if WSU suffers no APR penalties next May, then Washington State hits the field in the fall with the maximum 85 student-athletes on scholarship next fall.

Granted, WSU has precious little maneuver room to play with as outlined above. But it's also not a far fetched scenario but rather, a reasonably attainable one.

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