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Four PSU Teams Put On Notice/Penalized For Faltering Academics BLOG
The NCAA stripped three Portland State athletics teams of academic scholarships and put the men’s basketball team on a probationary-like period Tuesday for sub-par academics.
The sanctions are a result of declining Academic Progress Rates (APR) by the football, wrestling, men’s indoor track and men’s basketball teams.
The APR is a complicated metric that the NCAA uses to rate each team of every Division I institution academically, based on eligibility and retention.
The men’s basketball team was not penalized, but put on notice that penalties will follow if its academic standing does not improve over the next three years. The football team lost 2.78 scholarships while the men’s indoor track and wrestling teams lost fractions of a scholarship. Like the basketball team, all three are subject to escalating penalties if they do not improve their APRs.
Because PSU does not fund the maximum number of scholarships, the immediate effect of the sanctions is likely to be small, but the threat of escalating penalties could cast an ominous cloud over the next few years.
To reduce a lot of technical jargon and numbers to something intelligible, here’s how the APR works: each team (men and women’s) earns a number based on how its members have performed academically over the four preceding years. 1000 is perfect, 925 projects to roughly a 60 percent graduation rate and anything under 900 is subject to penalization (925 used to be the cutoff). For a more detailed breakdown, click here.
The numbers that drew penalties for PSU are: men’s basketball, 894; football, 920; wrestling, 858; men’s indoor track, 900. (Click here for a .pdf of all PSU’s numbers) (Note: I’m trying to find out why PSU was penalized in football and track when it didn’t fall below 900)
If you’re feeling really ambitious, bored or get off on long tables with LOTS of footnotes, you can check out all the official APR numbers here.
The numbers are more revealing when viewed in context with the rest of the Big Sky Conference. Six of the conference’s nine school’s were penalized and the conference’s men’s basketball teams and football teams were almost all ranked in the bottom 20th percentile of D-I schools. PSU was the second most-penalized school in the conference, with Sacramento State being cited in an NCAA-high seven sports.
Three Big Sky football teams received their second penalty and are now in danger of being banned from the postseason with one more bad year - a situation PSU could find itself in next year.
It’s not surprising to find that the Big Sky school with the best APRs is well-off Montana. It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots and see that the low academic ratings are directly tied to the economic problems facing the low-mid-major programs.
The Big Sky schools are not alone, as over 700 teams fell below the desired cut-offs, but without many of the resources of bigger schools they would seem to be in deeper jeopardy than most.
Whereas schools like the University of Oregon and Oregon State have more resources to improve grades after citations like the ones they received last year, that is easier said than done at a school like PSU.
Another big factor is that schools like PSU are forced to take more chances on student athletes who are not as academically sound as the ones bigger programs fight over.
Those two factors place PSU at greater risk that is only enhanced by the escalating nature of the penalties. This year the basketball team gets a slap on the wrist. Next time it could be scholarships, reduced practice time or reduced recruiting options.
Hopefully it won’t come to that, but it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility.
By Ian Ruder
Viking Blog at OregonLive.com