College basketball teams that don't carry an Academic Progress Rate of at least 900 could face a ban from the NCAA tournament as soon as this season, NCAA president Mark Emmert said today, and according to Bloomberg, he noted that Connecticut would have been ineligible to win the national title had the new rule been in place last season.
From USA Today:
The NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance recommended that this be put in place for the 2012-13 season, but NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said the Division I board of directors will have the option of implementing it for this season.
Had the 900 APR requirement existed last season, Connecticut -- which won the tournament -- would not have been eligible to compete. UConn's APR was 893.
Had it been applied to last season's NCAA tournament, the 900 benchmark would have scratched three entrants: UAB (860), Alabama State (883) and UConn. A total of 33 Division I men's basketball programs were beneath 900 last season, also including Arkansas (892), Missouri State (896), Ball State (892), Toledo (858) and St. Bonaventure (894).
Currently, teams that fall below a rolling average of 900 can receive conditional waivers to avoid postseason bans for numerous reasons, including the demonstration of academic improvement. But if this proposal were approved, teams could be banned beginning this season or in the near future.
The move to tying graduation rates to postseason eligibility comes two months after the NCAA called for the APR threshold to be raised to 930, but that time would be given before that was put into place so teams could get their academics in order. This latest proposal passing would move up the deadline for the nation's worst-performing schools in terms of qualifying for the postseason. Emmert said the stricter 930 cutline would then be put into place in 24 months.
There remain questions as to how accurate of a gauge a rolling average of APR scores can measure academic achievement, but the NCAA is again making a move to tie those scores to NCAA tournament bids. With this latest proposal, college basketball's academic underachievers might have less time to get in shape than it was previously believed.
The NCAA willing to penalize a national championship-caliber program like UConn is certainly headline-grabbing material. Now the organization just has to decide how and when it decides to implement such a system that could take away lucrative NCAA tournament bids from big-name teams. Judging from the latest proposal, for the NCAA, the time could be now.