More than 400 teams fail NCAA test

Posted: Tuesday, March 01, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS — More than 400 sports teams at the nation's Division I schools could lose scholarships next year under the NCAA's new academic standards, according to a report released Monday.

Most of the scholarship losses, which would be for one year, were expected in football, baseball and men's basketball.

Of the 5,270 Division I teams, about 410 risk penalties. About half of the nation's 328 Division I schools have at least one team facing sanctions, according to the preliminary report.

''We hope the behavior changes and the number of teams will actually go down over time,'' NCAA president Myles Brand said in a conference call.

The NCAA estimates 25 percent of football programs, 23 percent of baseball teams and 19 percent of men's basketball programs could be penalized if improvements are not made before new figures are released in December.

The NCAA's new calculation generates a score between 0 and 1,000; penalties are assessed beginning with teams that drop below 925. The number is determined by a points formula that rewards long-term eligibility and retention of student-athletes. Programs can lose points when athletes transfer, drop out, leave for the pros or become academically ineligible while still at the school.

Football, baseball and men's basketball were the only sports with averages below the 925-point cutline. Baseball teams averaged 922, while football and men's basketball were at 923.

Penalties, however, will not be imposed unless an at-risk school loses a player who would have been academically ineligible. Some schools could lose scholarships in the fall. The NCAA also will use a statistical adjustment for teams with fewer players to prevent anomalies, and schools can appeal decisions through a waiver process.

The most prominent programs that appeared in trouble were the men's basketball teams at Fresno State and Baylor. Fresno State received a 611, while Baylor scored 647 — a figure affected by the transfer of several players after the 2003 shooting death of Patrick Dennehy.

''Our basketball number is an outgrowth of what the program was prior to coach (Scott) Drew's arrival,'' Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said. ''What we're most excited about, we had a perfect score of 1,000 in men's basketball (last semester).''

Officials from some schools expressed their concerns with the scores.

At Maryland-Baltimore County, the men's indoor track team scored a 600 — a figure athletic director Charles Brown had already told NCAA officials was wrong.

''To be considered well below the cutline is very embarrassing and it hurts our recruiting,'' he said. ''It's extremely upsetting that the NCAA released something when they know there are some flaws.''

NCAA officials acknowledged some low scores may have been the result of teams with as few as one athlete or other errors.

Two other men's indoor track teams, at Eastern Michigan and Seton Hall, scored zeroes. Houston's women's cross country team also received a zero.

University of Hartford president Walter Harrison also had a women's cross country team that failed to meet the standard. Hartford scored a 500, a number that upset Harrison, who is chairman of the committee that helped establish the guidelines.

''I asked our athletic director to come in and asked her to give me a report why it happened and what can be done to correct that,'' Harrison said. ''I'd encourage my fellow presidents and chancellors to do the same thing.''

Schools still can submit amended forms in March and the corrected figures are expected to be released in April.

Under the formula, athletes receive one point each semester for staying academically eligible and another point for staying in school. For instance, a perfect score for a 13-member basketball team at a semester school would be 52.

The total number of points a team actually receives is divided by the maximum possible total to get a percentage, which is converted to the 1000-point scale. No team can lose more than 10 percent of what it offers.

''This represents the implementation of the most far-reaching academic reform in decades,'' Brand said. ''It holds schools accountable for the performance of their student-athletes.''

Monday's report only indicates how schools are doing based on data collected from the 2003-04 academic year. No penalties will be enforced until data from the 2004-05 school year are included, but teams must take the penalties as early as possible.

Stronger sanctions, such as postseason bans for consistently poor long-term academic performance, are expected to be enforced by the fall of 2008.

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