The NCAA Division I Board of Directors, according to an NCAA.com article, “unanimously approved the concept of increasing the required academic performance of all teams and mandated that teams must meet those requirements in order to participate in any NCAA-sponsored championship or football bowl game”. The NCAA touts the vote “as proof of the NCAA’s commitment to the academic success of all student-athletes”.
Specifically, the board voted to raise the Academic Progress Rate (APR) benchmark from 900 to 930. The board also “supported a penalty structure that will require teams to earn at least a 930 four-year, rolling APR in order to participate in postseason competition”. The board, which is comprised of presidents and chancellors from NCAA Division I institutions, desired the revised academic principles to be adopted swiftly (with an October 2011 goal). Therefore, the board “directed the Committee on Academic Performance to produce particulars about the new changes in academic requirements, including a timeline for phased-in implementation for both the new 930 benchmark and the penalty structure”. Under the current NCAA standards, “the most serious APR penalties are assessed when a team falls below a 900 four-year APR”. The NCAA explained a “930 APR predicts an approximately 50 percent Graduation Success Rate”, which is a board-affirmed commitment.
The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends NCAA Division I institutions:
- Schedule meetings between the athletics compliance staff, athletics academic support staff and other campus academic authorities (e.g., provost, academic unit advisors) to develop strategies to address the proposed higher APR standards during the 2011 fall semester and beyond.
- Conduct rules-education sessions with members of the coaching staff to review the proposed higher APR standards, the impact of the new benchmarks on team eligibility for post-season competition and the measures the school will implement to address the issue.
- Develop processes and procedures to proactively monitor APRs for all sports teams so that additional resources can be used to assist identified at-risk student-athletes (e.g., academic plan imposed on a student-athlete after mid-term progress report notes student is failing the course).