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Committee approves plan to assist limited-resource and HBCU schools

Committee on Academics members seek to support academic success

The Committee on Academics approved a plan Wednesday to continue to assist limited-resource schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in improving the academic success of their student-athletes.

Traditionally, Academic Progress Rates of teams at limited-resource schools and HBCUs have lagged behind the rates of teams at other Division I schools, though the rate for these schools has increased 16 points in the last four years. Teams from those schools also are penalized more often for academic shortcomings. These schools often have a clearly stated mission to provide access to educational opportunities to a broad group of students, including those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend college.

An advisory group comprised of representatives from limited-resource schools and HBCUs studied the issue and recommended a three-part plan. The plan includes a continuation of the existing filters, with a subtle shift in how schools use filters that relieve them of Academic Performance Program penalties. Also, the recommendations involve stronger requirements for schools writing and implementing Academic Progress Rate improvement plans and a robust educational component.

Greg Burke, athletics director at Northwestern State University and a member of the Committee on Academics, chaired the advisory group.

“We agreed that all Division I schools must be committed to the foundational principle of the Academic Performance Program and the academic success of students,” Burke said. “At the same time, these schools serve a very important role and serve an under-represented population in many cases. We tried to balance both of those considerations with our recommendations to the Committee on Academics.”

Under the new recommendations, the filters that allowed schools to escape penalties based on various factors – including resource level, mission and academic improvement – would be available only twice over a five-year period. The filters had been available every year. The committee will revisit this issue at the close of the five-year period.

Additionally, a more rigorous review of the APR improvement plans required of every school that uses a filter will be employed. New criteria for improvement plans will be refined by the committee, but could require:

  • Schools to directly relate their improvement plans to previously identified critical issues.
  • Schools to set performance-based, outcome-specific goals for both the long- and short-term and describe how goals will be achieved.
  • Schools to develop plans with broad-based campus support, including from the highest-ranking academic authority, faculty and technology staff.
  • A school’s president or chancellor and the APR improvement plan team to present the improvement plan in a videoconference with the NCAA staff.

Also, follow-up reports signed by the school’s president or chancellor must demonstrate that initiatives from the plan were implemented.

Finally, the committee approved a comprehensive educational programming approach aimed at helping schools improve academic performance. The educational initiatives will be refined by the committee in the spring, but may include programming designed for individual campus administrators (e.g., athletics directors, head coaches, faculty athletics representatives, presidents), and provide education and enhanced conference involvement. Additional elements will be added over the coming months.