By Jeff Goodman
The NCAA's concept of the APR (Academic Progress Rate) makes sense.
But the system needs tweaking.
There should be penalties and severe consequences for those schools that don’t take academics seriously.
Let’s take Portland State, for instance.
Men’s basketball coach Tyler Geving, in his second season after being promoted from an assistant, had a team that was banned by the NCAA from competing in the postseason this past season.
Portland State had posted four consecutive seasons in which it didn’t earn an APR score of more than 900. Teams that scored below the 925 mark faced immediate penalties.
Geving’s program has recorded back-to-back perfect scores since, is off the postseason ban and has all 13 scholarships back (they lost two scholarships each of the past two years). They also lost one day of practice each week all of last season.
Portland State doesn’t have near the academic resources of the high-major programs.
``We had one high-major kid transfer and he asked me whether we had a tutor go to class and take notes when we are on the road,” Geving said.
While the big boys have multiple tutors and a hefty academic support staff, the low-major programs have to share tutors and academic personnel with numerous other teams. They don’t have the luxury of having them on the road with them when they travel on road trips – and these are programs that are often forced to play road game after road game in the non-conference slate as part of “buy games” to earn money to support the programs.
``We had one person working in the entire academic center when I got here six years ago,” Geving said.
They don’t have the same luxury of easy academic majors and classes where many large schools are able to hide players.
And there are rules within the APR that just don’t make a ton of sense.
When a player transfers out of the program to a junior college, that school gets hit with a two-point penalty. If a kid leaves for another Division 1 school with a GPA of less than 2.6, that school takes a hit.
If a kid graduates beyond six years, it’s not quick enough. You need to get through in less – or else, again, you get hit with a loss of points.
``We’ve only had one kid who hasn’t graduated since I’ve been here,” Geving said. ``That’s the most important thing at the end of the day, isn’t it?”
Eight teams were banned from the postseason this coming year. Five – Cal-State Northridge, Chicago State, Grambling, Southern and Louisiana-Monroe – in basketball. Idaho State, Jackson State and Southern were all hit in football.
What’s the common theme here?
They are all low-level schools with small budgets and resources.
The intent makes sense. The formula? It, like the NCAA rulebook, needs alterations.