The NCAA recently released APR (i.e., academic progress rate) reports and accompanying penalties for all Division I institutions. APR is a means to determine whether student-athletes are eligible to compete and retained on campus. In short form, each student-athlete receives one point for being eligible to compete and one point for being retained by the institution each semester. Thus, a student-athlete can receive four points for an institution if he/she is eligible and retained during the full academic year (i.e., two semesters). When Dr. Brand and his staff implemented APR it had a few exceptions, which included student-athletes leaving to turn pro, student-athletes leaving school to be with a sick parent, and several others. Today, APR is much more watered down and has a volume of exceptions to be used by savvy compliance staffs around the country.
UConn took the cake as the biggest name to be penalized this year when its national champion men’s basketball team received a scholarship reduction penalty. Of the fifty-eight penalties handed out by the NCAA, eight programs received post-season penalties. The men’s basketball teams from Cal State-Northridge,
The eye-popping aspect of the reports and assessed penalties shows that twenty-nine of the fifty-eight harshest penalties were placed on historically black colleges and universities (“HBCU”), which include only twenty-four of the three hundred schools subject to APR. That is an alarming and unfortunate statistic. The media often reports on the disparity of talent and funding among schools in the BCS conferences, but rarely reports on the disparity in compliance and academics departments. Today, several institutions have as many as nine full-time compliance staffers with vast knowledge of APR and the multitude of loopholes and exceptions used to skew the figures in favor of their teams. HBCUs do not have that luxury and do not have the compliance and academic staff to negotiate these areas to improve APR scores. It is imperative that the NCAA provide additional help, education, and/or funding to rescue these institutions from penalties year after year. The HBCUs should have not been placed in this position. If necessary, the NCAA staff should devote interns or staffers to help educate and provide assistance to the HBCUs. One over worked compliance staffer (who likely has other duties) cannot manage a Division I athletics program. HBCUs simply need a helping hand.