The defending NCAA basketball champions, Connecticut Huskies, were denied a waiver that would let them participate in the 2013 tournament which they were banned from due to below average academic standards. There a lot of silly NCAA rules and regulations that many athletes and coaches are not fond of (including myself), but in this case the NCAA got it right. Academic standards are already low enough for student athletes and UCONN should have to meet them before being let off of their punishment.
According to the NCAA, the Academic Progress Rate (APR) is “a term-by-term measure of eligibility and retention for Division I student-athletes that was developed as an early indicator of eventual graduation rates.” While many of the basketball players that go to UCONN have high aspirations of starring in the NBA, it is UCONN’s duty and responsibility as an academic institution to meet the minimum academic standards (if not more). Their failure to do so warrants punishment and while some say this may be a too severe punishment, it is a necessary punishment for the betterment of student-athletes across the nation. The NCAA is showing it is not messing around with academic standards.
The NCAA recently raised its required APR standard from 900 to 930. An APR of 930 translates to about a 50 percent graduation rate. In order to make it fair for the schools, the NCAA has allowed schools to have a four year average of 900 or a two year average of 930 in order to stay eligible for the 2013 tournament. UCONN basketball has an 893 four year average. Their 2009-2010 score was a low 826 and even with their projected 2010-2011 score of 978, they would still be ineligible. According to the redacted version of the support for the waiver that UCONN released, the current members of the team have an average SAT (math and verbal) score of 927. This is significantly below the average SAT score for the incoming freshman class at UCONN of 1212.
The average APR in Division I men’s basketball is 945 and as the defending NCAA champions, UCONN is seen as a model program. While it may seem as if they are merely a model for basketball performance, it sends the wrong message if the top basketball team in the land can’t meet the minimum academic standards and therefore cannot compete in the season ending tournament.
The latest numbers approximate about 1.2% of NCAA men’s basketball players go on to play professionally. There are currently 11 former UCONN Huskies playing in the NBA who range from having played since as early as 1997 (Ray Allen) to being in their first season (Kemba Walker). Of the hundreds of members of the UCONN basketball team since 1997, only 11 are still playing professionally. The reality is the majority of these kids will not be in the NBA and UCONN needs to help these kids pursue a valuable education to prepare them for life after basketball.
UCONN will likely appeal the NCAA’s recent decision and it appears we won’t know UCONN’s eligibility for the 2013 tournament until around April. This is more than just an ineligibility problem for UCONN. This will most definitely hurt their recruiting as high school players dream of playing in March Madness and it will also give legendary coach, Jim Calhoun, one more reason to retire.
This should teach student athletes that there is more to life than sports and they will face consequences if they do not perform academically. At the end of the day, many of these players are going to be future lawyers and businessman and their scoring average isn’t going to get them as far as their GPA will.
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