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Penalties, lost postseason numbers decline

In 2018-19, nine Division I teams will be ineligible for the postseason due to their low Academic Progress Rates, down from 17 teams last year.

A dozen teams will take penalties in 2018-19 for not meeting the minimum academic standard set by member schools. Most of the teams ineligible for postseason play also are among those subject to penalties. In 2017-18, 26 teams were subject to penalties.

To compete in the 2018-19 postseason, teams must achieve a 930 four-year APR. NCAA members chose the 930 standard because that score predicts, on average, a 50 percent graduation rate for teams at that APR level. Additionally, teams must earn at least a 930 four-year APR to avoid penalties.

Teams scoring below 930 can face consequences intended to direct additional focus on academics. Those penalties can include practice restrictions and playing-season reductions, allowing teams to fill the time that would have been spent on athletics with academic activities.

The Academic Performance Program penalty structure includes three levels, with penalties increasing in severity at each level. Schools move through the penalty structure each year, progressing to the next level of severity if their multiyear APR remains below the benchmarks.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, chair of the Committee on Academics, explained the philosophy behind the Academic Performance Program’s penalty system.

“The goal of the Academic Performance Program is not to punish but encourage schools to support the academic success of student-athletes on every campus,” DeGioia said. “The Committee on Academics will continue to look for ways to support member schools and student-athletes in their pursuit of academic excellence.”

One of the ways the committee has supported HBCUs and limited-resource schools is by allowing teams that meet specific criteria to avoid penalties in some circumstances.

For example, HBCU and limited-resource teams historically avoided penalties by showing both improvement and a graduation rate that exceeds that of the student body at the school. That separate standard remains available, but a team cannot use it every year. The committee limited its use to spur schools to continue to work toward academic achievement.

Additionally, the national office provides educational initiatives to help limited-resource schools offer additional academic support to student-athletes. Since 2012, the Accelerating Academic Success Program has awarded more than $16 million to assist schools in developing and supporting academic programs that help student-athletes earn their degrees.

Schools may request a waiver from some or all penalty elements. Waivers are overseen by the Committee on Academics.

The specific penalties for each team are listed on the school’s report in the APR searchable database.

Postseason ineligibility

  • Alabama A&M: Men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s track and field, and women’s cross country.
  • Gardner-Webb: Men’s track and field.
  • Grambling: Softball.
  • Mississippi Valley: Baseball.
  • Morgan State: Football.
  • Wright State: Men’s tennis.

Level One Penalties

  • Gardner-Webb: Men’s track and field.
  • Grambling: Football, women’s volleyball.
  • New Mexico State: Men’s cross country.

Level Two Penalties

  • Alabama A&M: Baseball, men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s track and field, and women’s cross country.
  • Grambling: Softball.
  • Mississippi Valley: Baseball.
  • Morgan State: Football.