INDIANAPOLIS — Less than 24 hours after President Mark Emmert called for immediate changes in college sports, the NCAA's board of directors approved a measure that would include post-season bans if teams fall below the Academic Progress Rate, which itself will increase. In October, NCAA leaders will consider when the new rules will take effect.
While the APR discussion was already on Thursday's docket before this week's two-day presidential retreat, which ended Wednesday, it was the first chance the board could prove this time would be different from the traditionally deliberative NCAA legislative process that can take years.
"The very clear message from them (university presidents) was to start doing things now in August when you have the Division I board meeting and when you come back in October, in January, in April, this is something that needs to be done, as Mark says, in months, not years," Oregon State President Ed Ray said. "I think they would feel very good with the actions the board took, and saw that we are moving quickly and responsibly forward."
The board voted unanimously to approve Emmert's push to impose harsher penalties for teams that underperform in the classroom, including post-season bans if they fall below the APR's four-year rolling average, which will increase from 900 to 930.
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There will be more discussion on how to implement the new APR structure and proposed sanctions in October. Walt Harrison, president of the University of Hartford and chairman of the committee on academic performance, said he expects the penalty structure to be phased in during a three- to five-year period.
And it's likely any team with a substandard four-year average will be ineligible even if the team score is improving. Current rules allow teams to be granted waivers if a team score improves significantly.
"That's one of the things we'll have to study between now and October, but the direction I'm getting from the board is not too much leverage there," said Harrison, whose committee proposed increasing the cut mark. "If there is any appeal at all, it is going to be tightly defined and there may not be any."
Emmert and South Florida President Judy Genshaft, the board's chairwoman, also have bigger plans for down the road. They said Wednesday and reiterated Thursday the need for stronger sanctions for NCAA rule-breakers, a major edit of the massive 439-page rule book and tougher academic standards for incoming freshmen and junior college transfers. Other changes could include allowing schools to cover the full cost of attendance rather than just the cost of tuition, room and board, fees and books, and providing scholarships on a multiyear basis. Currently, scholarships are awarded one year at a time. Those decisions could be left to individual conferences, but the NCAA would still have to approve the change.