UConn men fail to make NCAA grade
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA's new academic requirements could give new meaning to the madness of March.
On Wednesday, a record 10 men's basketball teams including three-time national champion Connecticut were banned from next year's NCAA tournament because of poor Academic Progress Rate scores.
The penalties affect seven conferences, each of which must adapt to a new landscape for their league tournaments. Four conferences -- the Big East, Ohio Valley, Southland and Southwest Athletic -- said the banned teams cannot compete in their league tournaments and the adjustments will take a toll.
"We'll have to adjust the bracket accordingly," Big East associate commissioner for men's basketball Dan Gavitt said Wednesday. "We would just have to eliminate a game and move someone up on the line."
Joining the Huskies on the sideline next March will be Arkansas-Pine Bluff, California-Riverside, Cal State Bakersfield, Jacksonville State, Mississippi Valley State, North Carolina-Wilmington, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Toledo and Towson.
All local universities met the standards. Twelve of Pitt's 19 intercollegiate programs were above the average national Division I score in their respective sports. Twenty-three of Penn State's 29 programs matched or exceeded the national average. Also faring well in the NCAA report were Duquesne (15 sports), Robert Morris (21) and West Virginia (16).
Cal State Bakersfield, which became a full-fledged Division I member in 2010-11 and does not yet have a conference affiliation in basketball, could still be removed from the banned list because some of the school's data is still being reviewed.
Each of the schools fell below the mandated four-year cutline of 900 or the two-year cutline of 930 and will face additional sanctions. Connecticut, which had a four-year score of 889 and a two-year score of 902, must replace four hours of practice time with academic activities each week.
The APR measures the classroom performance of every Division I team. This year's data calculates rates from 2007-08 through 2010-11.
Some schools, such as Arkansas' men's basketball team, avoided penalties on the four-year score (894) because it met the two-year requirement. One team, Jacksonville State, was punished for failing to meet the requirements it agreed to last year when it was given a waiver, the NCAA said on a conference call with reporters.
Naturally, Connecticut drew the most attention as the first BCS school to face a postseason ban based solely on sub-par academics. The Huskies have been an NCAA tournament regular since 1990, winning 48 postseason games and national titles in 1999, 2004 and '11.
Seeing the Huskies make the list of banned teams was no surprise, though.
Connecticut officials knew they wouldn't make the cutline last year and sought for a waiver from the ban this spring when it asked the NCAA to use the two most recent years of data. That argument was rejected. The Huskies now plan to make one more at a hearing later this summer in front of the committee on academic performance.
"I hope my colleagues come to the realization that if they change the rules and make this in effect that the NCAA has to change the way it review the data," Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel said. "That's the only fair thing to do."
It's unlikely the committee will give in now.
Only three football teams received postseason bans -- Hampton, North Carolina A&T and Texas Southern. All are Division I-AA teams. The only other teams to get postseason bans were Central Connecticut State in men's soccer and Northern Colorado in men's wrestling.
First Published June 21, 2012 12:00 am