The NCAA proved Thursday that its new academic reforms come with plenty of backbone, as the Committee on Academic Performance denied an appeal that would have allowed the University of Connecticut's men's basketball team to participate in the 2013 NCAA tournament, despite not meeting the new standards.
Given the NCAA's reluctance to bow to the will of one of its traditional basketball powers, current and future student-athletes must now be on alert: There's a zero-tolerance policy in the NCAA when it comes to rewarding academically struggling teams with postseason play.
The NCAA's new standards require schools to have either a two-year average academic progress score of 930 (which equates to roughly a 50 percent graduation rate) or a four-year average APR of 900. The men's basketball team at UConn had an APR of 826 in 2009-10, which correlated to roughly a 25 percent graduation rate.
A school official told the Hartford Courant that the 2010-11 APR score should be around 975 when it's officially released, but that still would only result in a two-year score of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5. Therefore, unless the NCAA changed which data it used in the APR calculations, UConn would be falling short of the new standards.
And thus, Phil Chardis, the assistant director of athletic communications at UConn, tweeted shortly after 3 p.m. Eastern:
#UConn: UConn's final appeal to the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance is denied.— Phil Chardis (@uconnmbbsid) April 5, 2012
As ESPN's Andy Katz confirmed a few minutes later, the ruling means that UConn won't be eligible for the 2013 NCAA tournament or any other postseason play. Early in March, presidents of the Big East Conference (of which UConn is a member) voted that any team in any sport ineligible for the NCAA tournament will also be banned from its conference postseason tournament.
Chardis followed up by tweeting, "As of now, Huskies are ineligible to play in 2013 NCAA Tournament, but that could change if the criteria to measure APR is changed." In other words, if the NCAA decides to exclude the 2009-10 APR and use the 2010-11 and 2011-12 APRs instead, the UConn men's basketball team would still have a fighting chance at being eligible for postseason play in 2013.
Committee Chairman Walter Harrison recently told the Associated Press that the committee may not decide which APR scores to use until July.
Barring a change in that policy, the 2011 national champion in men's basketball will be sidelined during next year's March Madness.
Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.