A commitment to academics and student-athlete success in the classroom is a vital part of the NCAA’s mission to integrate athletics into the fabric of higher education. The NCAA pledges to help student-athletes achieve their academic goals as well as their athletics goals.
By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The process and timing for both penalizing and determining postseason eligibility of teams who fail to meet academic benchmarks will remain the same, the Committee on Academic Performance decided, using the most accurate data available and providing the fullest opportunity for appeals.
The committee spent more than a year considering ways to make the penalties apply closer to the time in which the poor academic performance occurred, but ultimately determined that hastening the process significantly would create more problems than it would solve, including treating sports differently, complicating the data collection process for schools and providing little notice to both current student-athletes who might lose their last season of championships eligibility and recruits deciding on colleges.
CAP policy allows student-athletes in good academic standing who have only one season of eligibility remaining to transfer and play immediately if their team is unable to participate in the postseason due to failure to meet academic requirements. The committee members were very sensitive to the impact a compressed timeline would have on those student-athletes as well as prospective student-athletes.
“We acknowledge the value of trying to put the penalty as close to the events that created the penalty as possible, but, having considered all of the options, we think the current process is the most fair and student-athlete friendly system,” said CAP Chair Walter Harrison, president at Hartford. “A constant time for data collection has been positively received by the membership and really outweighs the other issues with real-time penalties. We expect to continue with these policies and procedures in the future.”
Because the calculation for the Academic Progress Rate includes retention, schools can’t submit data until classes begin for the fall semester and they have confirmation of who has enrolled full-time. Allowing for reasonable time for data collection, verification and adjustments, and waivers and appeals expands the timeline: Semester schools aren’t certain of their penalty status until late fall or winter – quarter schools even later. Even if no waivers or appeals are sought, final penalties aren’t generally assessed until close to or (depending on the sport) after the start of the championships for fall sports.
The committee’s discussion produced several conclusions:
The committee has concluded that the current process achieves a careful and appropriate balance among these factors.
The public announcement of the high-performing and penalized teams will move earlier in the year by several months. In recent years, the announcement had slipped into June because of a desire to have all teams entirely through the waiver process before releasing final data for all teams. Though some teams may not be through the process by the time a public announcement is made in April, the committee believes those teams would be among those most subject to scrutiny no matter when the release occurred.
In some cases, individual releases for teams will be required, either because of high public interest or if they are not through the entire process until after the main release. In the past, individual releases occurred when teams’ information was delayed because of waivers and appeals.
The Committee on Academic Performance meets next in October.