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College Sports, Division I, Education

UConn’s Proposed Alternate APR Penalties Denied by the NCAA

The University of Connecticut (UConn) announced on February 10, 2012, “its waiver request to participate in men’s basketball postseason competition for the 2012-13 season, including the 2013 NCAA Tournament, has been denied” by the NCAA. UConn also stated it “will now appeal the decision to the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance Subcommittee on Appeals”. UConn, which risks the imposition of a post-season (NCAA) tournament ban for its men’s basketball team in 2012-13, submitted an alternate Academic Performance Rate (APR) penalties to the NCAA. UConn faces the post-season sanction as a result of the low academic performance of men’s basketball student-athletes—which is measured through several indexes, including the APR. According to media reports, UConn proposed an alternative set of penalties in exchange for remaining eligible for the postseason. For example, the institution would reduce the number of contests for next season if the NCAA grants a waiver to allow the men’s basketball team to compete in the 2013 men’s basketball tournament. A February 9, 2012, ESPN.com article also noted:

[UConn also would] include forfeiting the revenue awarded to the Big East for participating in the 2013 tournament, reducing the number of regular-season games played in the 2012-13 season from 27 to 23 — not including the in-season Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands — and barring coach Jim Calhoun from meeting off-campus with prospective recruits during the fall 2012 contact period.

The schedule changes also would include eliminating exhibition games next season, but would not impact the team’s play at the Paradise Jam. So the actual number of games played would be 26, rather than 30. The school said all hours that would have been spent in competition will instead transfer to study hall, tutor sessions or meetings with advisers.

The school said Calhoun will bring a current or former NBA player to inner-city schools for at least five educational sessions on the importance of academic achievement.

UConn president Susan Herbst issued a statement that included the following sentiments:

We believe that we have made a very compelling case to the NCAA and will be deeply disappointed if our request for a waiver, from the 2013 men’s basketball postseason ban, is denied. Our team’s academic performance improved tremendously in 2010-11, and in the fall 2011 semester. We developed a new long-term academic plan for our team, and it has already shown positive results. It is unfortunate that our current men’s basketball student-athletes could be punished for the problematic academic performance of other students — students who have not been enrolled at UConn for over two years. That decision would be unfair to innocent young people, which is baffling to us. Regulatory bodies should not change rules retroactively. The NCAA should focus on the future, so that people have the chance to work toward positive change. They should not dredge up the past, and then hurt innocent parties of the present.

The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm recommends NCAA Division I institutions continue to monitor APR scores for all sports teams and implement aggressive improvement plans to increase the APR scores of at-risk student-athletes and teams.

The full ESPN.com article can be read by clicking here. UConn’s February 10 press release can be read by clicking here.

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About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.

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