NCAA to fine-tune academic grading system

Published April 1, 2005

ST. LOUIS - NCAA president Myles Brand has heard plenty about the Academic Progress Rate, a new tool to measure how well student-athletes are doing in school and if they're staying in school, and most of it is good.

"The overall response has been favorable," he said during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Edwards Jones Dome, site of this year's men's Final Four.

But he conceded that tweaking could be needed and might occur when the Committee on Academic Performance meets later this month.

For instance, baseball teams scored low, many well below the 925 score needed not to incur scholarship losses. Florida State, which revised its score, was at 890 and would have lost 1.1 scholarships had it received that score next year. FSU's problem, like at many schools, was the loss of players to the draft after their junior years. Early entry into the NFL and NBA also cause problems magnified by the APR.

"We're going to address specifically that issue in the near future," Brand said. "I think we have to figure out what's in the coach's control and what's not. If a young man is academically eligible while in uniform but in the last few weeks of a semester gets ready for an NBA tryout, goes in the first round, should we penalize the coach and the teams in terms of our calculations? My sense of the matter is no. But that will cause us to change, at least in a minor way, the way we calculate (APR)."

Each student-athlete on scholarship can receive one point for meeting academic eligibility standards and one point for returning for the next term. So, for a semester-based school, a perfect score is four points or "four-for-four." The team's total points are divided by the total points possible, then multiplied by 1,000 to determine the team's APR. If the team APR falls below 925, then a student-athlete doesn't meet academic requirements and fails to return, the team would lose his scholarship.

Baseball is also affected by transfers. Football, basketball and ice hockey are the lone Division I sports in which a student-athlete can transfer to another Division I school and not play immediately. Without that penalty, transfers are more common in other sports.

"I think it needs to be looked at," Brand said of the transfer rule.

END THE DRAFTS: Officials from the Center for Science in the Public Interest are asking Brand to cut off the beer ads that run during college sports broadcasts.

Brand said the NCAA limits beer ads to one minute per hour at all NCAA championship events and isn't "going to change behaviors of adolescents one way or another." He called claims that the NCAA permits more time for alcohol ads as "exaggerated."

One side note: While Brand was the president at Indiana, he ran a dry campus.

STEROID ISSUE: With steroids making the news in major-league baseball and now the NFL, Brand said he's confident the NCAA is doing a good job of testing and penalizing users.

"We believe we're on the right track and doing the right things," he said. "But again, we can't become complacent about it. We have to be on the alert."

AWARDS SHOW: Illinois coach Bruce Weber squeezed another demand into his increasingly frantic schedule Thursday afternoon, but it was worth it. He received the Adolph F. Rupp Cup as the nation's top coach.

"This is truly an honor to receive this award," he said before bolting to practice. "As a kid coming up I watched games and I saw Coach Rupp coach. I wasn't cheering for him then, I was a Marquette fan and an Al McGuire fan. But I knew he was special. How he created the program at Kentucky, which is truly one of the great programs, if not the best program ever, is amazing. And to have your name associated with that is truly humbling. But when you win an award like this, it means one thing: You have a great team, great players and a great staff."

As a bonus, Weber was introduced and handed the award by his former boss, Gene Keady.

Duke guard J.J. Redick was the Rupp Trophy winner as the nation's top player. He reaffirmed his commitment to return for his senior year.

"I want to leave a legacy at Duke and be remembered as one of the all-time great players at Duke and to do that, I need to stay four years and get my degree," he said.

HE SAID IT: "I don't really think it gives them an edge because they get who they want anyway." - Clemson coach Oliver Purnell on whether he thinks the national commercial featuring Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and his program is a recruiting boon for the Blue Devils. Other coaches have complained to their conference commissioners and even Brand.