Progress reports could mean tougher penalties for teams

INDIANAPOLIS -- College teams that consistently underperform
in the classroom are getting hit harder by the NCAA.

Nearly 150 college teams face possible scholarship losses next
season and 26 others are in danger of being banned from postseason
play if they don't improve next year.

The NCAA's annual academic progress report was released Tuesday.
It showed more than 700 teams fell short of the mandated cut score.

But only 218 were penalized with warning letters, potential
reductions in scholarships and practice time and warned they face
possible postseason bans. Some were granted waivers by the
governing body.

Thirty-six teams were assessed two penalties and three schools
had more than one team make the list twice -- Alabama-Birmingham in
men's basketball, football and men's golf; San Diego State in
baseball and football; and San Jose State in baseball and men's

When a team does not improve, the punishments can become harsher
with three consecutive scores under 900 leading to a postseason
ban. A fourth consecutive offense would prevent them from competing
at the Division I level.

Schools already facing a possible postseason ban include
football teams at San Jose State, Southern and Temple, and men's
basketball teams at New Mexico State, Centenary and East Carolina.

Money is becoming a more notable factor in academic success or
failure. According to the report, 180 teams cited low resources as
the reason for their poor scores, while 253 teams said they were
hurt by the departures of academically ineligible players. Teams
can cite more than one explanation for scores when filing the
report with the NCAA.

This year's result also show the largest Division I schools,
those in the Bowl Championship Series conferences, performed
relatively well.

Eighteen BCS teams were penalized, eight in men's and women's
basketball and two in football. Of those, only four teams -- Kansas
State, Purdue, Southern California and Tennessee -- made the NCAA
men's basketball tournament and all four could lose up to two
scholarships next season if a player leaves school while
academically ineligible.

Also making the list were traditional powers like the LSU
baseball team and Tennessee men's swimming team.

Tennessee and West Virginia, which each had three teams on the
list, were the only BCS schools with more than one team penalized.
Each school had three teams make it - West Virginia in men's
soccer, wrestling and women's rowing and Tennessee in men's
basketball, men's swimming and baseball.

Women continue to outperform men, with a four-year average of
969 compared to 951.

Historically black colleges and universities, which last year
had a disparate percentage of the low scores, fell more in line
with the national averages this year. Eleven teams, 4.3 percent of
the overall total, at eight historically black schools were
penalized. The national average was 4.0 percent.

The most recent report includes scores from the 2003-07 academic
years. An athlete earns one point for remaining academically
eligible each semester and another point each semester they remain
at the school, accumulating a maximum of four points each year. The
scoring is altered slightly for schools on a quarters-based

Over the past four years, the scores improved slightly in 26 of
the 29 sports measured by the NCAA, with decreases shown only in
men's ice hockey, men's swimming and water polo.