Dec 9, 2004 wire reports

MIAMI -- The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics renewed its recommendation that eligibility for bowl games be reserved for teams that graduate at least 50 percent of their players.


The commission cited statistics released Tuesday showing 27 of this season's 56 bowl teams failed to graduate at least 50 percent of their players within six years of their initial enrollment. Thus, nearly half of the bowl teams would not have been eligible for the games under the commission's recommendation.

"It is critical that the criteria for this system, which will be determined early next year, be tough enough to improve graduation rates or eliminate participation of underperforming schools," Knight Commission Chairman William C. Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina, said in a statement Thursday.

A June 2001 report by the commission said tying postseason participation to graduation rates would help restore academic integrity in intercollegiate athletics.

This week's statistics were in a study by the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida. The study used NCAA statistics taken from four freshman classes, beginning in 1994-95 and ending in 1997-98.

The commission pointed out that only three of the eight teams in the Bowl Championship Series graduated more than 50 percent of their players over the most recent four-year period -- Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Southern California.

The commission meets again Feb. 7 in Miami and will hear from Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford and chair of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance.

The Associated Press News Service

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