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DI Board approves increased academic performance concept

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

Less than 24 hours after emerging from a landmark Presidential retreat, the Division I Board of Directors 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.

NCAA President Mark Emmert touted the change as proof of the NCAA’s commitment to the academic success of all student-athletes. “This is about the academic performance of all of our students in all of our sports. This is about the academic expectations we have for all of our student-athletes.”

The board voted to raise the  Academic Progress Rate benchmark from 900 to 930 and 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. 

These changes stemmed from the two-day presidential retreat which concluded Wednesday and focused on improving intercollegiate athletics in a variety of ways: academics, fiscal responsibility and integrity. The presidents also directed NCAA President Mark Emmert to assemble whatever groups are necessary to codify the recommendations in all three areas discussed at the retreat.

“We have made some very significant recommendations that we want to turn into action. We will begin working on this immediately,” Emmert said. “We will come before this group no later than October with a clear action agenda to implement the ideas that were developed over the past two days. Some of that action began today.”

The presidents felt strongly that the academic principles be adopted swiftly and decidedly, with details to be finalized in October. 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.

Currently, the most serious APR penalties are assessed when a team falls below a 900 four-year APR. The move to 930 will be significant, especially as it relates to championship participation.

The 930 APR predicts an approximately 50 percent Graduation Success Rate. Within the last year, the presidents on the Board stoutly affirmed a commitment to keeping the benchmark for penalties at a minimum 50 percent graduation rate. The relationship between the two rates had changed over the last several years as adjustments were made to improve the fairness of the APR.

In other business, the Division I Board of Directors adopted a Legislative Council recommendation that the number of schools required to initiate an override of legislative action be increased to 75 from 30, effective immediately.

The Council recommended the increase because the number of active Division I members has increased significantly since the original number was set. The Board’s action also increased the number of requests necessary to suspend legislation from 100 to 125.

The numbers for football-specific override requests changed as well, from 15 to 25 for an override of votes taken within either the Football Bowl or Football Championship Subdivisions and from 40 to 50 for suspension of legislation.

The Council believed it was important for the membership to have the opportunity to override legislation if a significant majority opposed the action taken by the Council and Board of Directors. However, the previous standard represented less than 10 percent of the Division I membership. The new standard requires 22 percent of schools to disagree with a legislative action for an override to take place.

The change is effective immediately and will apply to any legislation adopted going forward.

The Board endorsed the NCAA staff's interpretation of existing bylaws to prohibit youth programming on institutional and conference networks and broadcasts, which will provide time to evaluate the proper application of NCAA rules. The NCAA is holding a meeting on August 22 with representatives from broadcast networks and several conferences to discuss the issue.

The Board heard an update from Bowl Task Force Chair Harvey Perlman. The presidents expect a final report from the task force with recommendations for action at their October meeting.