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NCAA gets serious about school -- and some will pay

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  • NCAA gets serious about school -- and some will pay

    Jan. 14, 2005
    By Dennis Dodd Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    Might as well beat the NCAA to publicly outing these major-college football programs.

    Mack Brown's record at Texas: 70 wins, 19 losses, 27 percent graduation rate. (Getty Images)
    Minnesota. Houston. Texas. Utah.

    The Association would have us believe all of the above are about to be put on double-secret probation. Or something close to it. The NCAA basically said so this week when it got to the heart of the matter of academic performance. Fall below a 50 percent graduation rate, and programs could lose scholarships, postseason berths and, worst case, NCAA membership.

    How's that feel, Flubbed Four? Embarrassed enough? All four of those programs graduated no more than 40 percent of their players -- oops, sorry, student-athletes -- according the latest grad rates. The NCAA already has said 30 percent of I-A falls below its new Academic Performance Rate (APR) standard that approximates those current NCAA grad rates.

    Those four might or might not be in that group when warnings are issued sometime soon, but their recent track record isn't good. And there will be more.

    Later this month or early February, the NCAA will start sending out letters to schools that fall below the APR cut line of 925 (approximately 50 percent). By 2006, offenders could start losing scholarships (up to 10 percent in each sport).

    Then a postseason ban. Imagine Texas being told it can't go bowling.

    The next punishment stage is essentially a new version of the NCAA's death penalty -- loss of membership.

    "We're talking about rather strong penalties here," NCAA president Myles Brand said, adding, "We're talking about the level of major infraction penalties."

    And it might just work. For once, the NCAA has some legislation with teeth -- or at least the red-cheek factor. If nothing else, the "offenders" will be chagrined. The NCAA plans a very public process in notifying and penalizing schools that fall below 925.

    The idea being: Imagine Texas letting things slip to a postseason ban. Supposedly, it won't.

    Schools' grad rates will be tracked term-by-term, year-by-year instead of the antiquated federally mandated six-year window, which was akin to looking at a distant star. Sometimes many coaches, presidents and athletic directors ago.

    The APR is more accurate in that it takes into account transfers going in and out of the program who leave in good academic standing.

    But for now, the old antiquated system is all we have to go on, which is why the four schools were selected for this mini-public flogging. According to the NCAA, 27 percent of the Texas freshman football players entering school in 1997-98 got their degrees within six years.


    Minnesota was at 38 percent; Houston, 39 percent; Utah, 40 percent.

    Again, the four aren't necessarily going to get the APR chokehold. But the highway to "Hello, NCAA warning" has been paved. Max offenders could lose up to nine scholarships in football, capping that number at 76. Men's basketball could lose a max of two of its 13 scholarships.

    "The loss of two scholarships could crush you," Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said. "That's what the NCAA has given teams that have major violations."

    NCAA legislation is seldom, if ever, this punitive. Members have only themselves to blame. Publishing grad rates didn't have the intended embarrassment consequence. Recruits didn't notice -- or didn't care -- that some football and basketball programs were nothing more than football and basketball factories.

    Majoring in eligibility became a degree program in itself. It was only eight years ago that Texas Tech running back Byron Hanspard won the Doak Walker Award and played in a bowl game despite carrying a 0.00 grade-point average.

    Now, programs will pay with their lifeblood -- talent.

    "They're strong penalties, they're very clear," said Hartford president Walter Harrison, chair of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance. "They have serious consequences."

    Yes, there will be a lot of hyper-extended elbows from NCAA types patting each other on the back. But, goodness, they had to do something, even if it was cosmetic.

    Example: It's more than strange that NCAA presidents have approved legislation that forces coaches to adhere to their job descriptions.

    "The presidents and ADs hire coaches," Self said. "Part of that job is to graduate young men if, in fact, that AD and president tell them that's their job. For the NCAA to have to legislate the presidents and ADs to get the coaches to do their jobs is a sad statement."

    But that's what it has come to. Academic fraud long ago became the cheaters' new go-to violation. Paid-off tutors, shady summer school credits, grade-changing, phony SAT scores. As the NCAA's academic noose has gotten tighter, players (and sometimes coaches) have found ways to wriggle out.

    This new legislation just might force the playahs among the student-athletes to take the courses of least resistance -- the IEM, aka incredibly easy major. You've seen them every Saturday below a kid's birth date, class and stats -- physical education, hotel management, parks and rec.

    Some of those kids aren't from Ohio State, but that's another story.

    "The NCAA has historically not entered the realm of which degree programs are tougher than others," said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA's vice president for membership services.

    Nor should it, but there is another side to this landmark legislation. Beginning in the fall, the new NCAA guidelines will make it easier for prospects to become initially eligible but harder for them to stay eligible.

    In the short term, you know what that could do to graduation rates.

    "I think graduation rates will go down, rather than up," said DeLoss Dodds, Texas' athletic director. "I can't imagine they'll go up based on what I know."

    In the long term, coaches are going to have to make some tough decisions. Do they take the five-star superstar jock or the four-star architecture major who projects as a college graduate?

    That means Saturday's child is going to be little bit smarter, maybe a little bit less athletic. If everyone buys in, it beats double-secret probation.

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    NCAA bans Indian mascots, 'abusive' nicknames from postseason
    by DJRamFan
    Aug. 5, 2005
    CBS wire reports

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Fed up with what it considers "hostile" and "abusive" American Indian nicknames, the NCAA announced Friday it would shut those words and images out of postseason tournaments, a move that left some school officials angry and threatening legal action.

    NCAA takes a stand that isn't much of one
    by Dennis Dodd

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    Starting in February, any school with a nickname or logo considered racially or ethnically "hostile" or "abusive" by the NCAA would be prohibited from using them in postseason events. Mascots will not be allowed to perform at tournament games, and band members and cheerleaders will also be barred from using American Indians on their uniforms beginning in 2008.

    Major college football teams are not subject to the ban because there is no official NCAA tournament.

    Affected schools were quick to complain, and Florida State -- home of the Seminoles -- threatened legal action.


    ZIP code where you park at night.

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    "That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole people as culturally 'hostile and abusive' is both outrageous and insulting," Florida State president T.K. Wetherell said in a statement.

    "I intend to pursue all legal avenues to ensure that this unacceptable decision is overturned, and that this university will forever be associated with the 'unconquered' spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida," he added.

    The committee also recommended that schools follow the examples of Wisconsin and Iowa by refusing to schedule contests against schools that use American Indian nicknames.

    While NCAA officials admit they still can't force schools to change nicknames or logos, they are making a statement they believe is long overdue. Eighteen mascots, including Florida State's Seminole and Illinois' Illini, were on the list of offenders.

    Those schools will not be permitted to host future NCAA tournament games, and if events have already been awarded to those sites, the school must cover any logos or nicknames that appear.

    "Certainly some things remain to be answered from today, and one of those things is the definition of what is 'hostile or abusive,"' said Tom Hardy, a spokesman at Illinois....
    -08-08-2005, 07:25 AM
  • DJRamFan
    NCAA willing to bend rules in wake of hurricane
    by DJRamFan
    Aug. 31, 2005
    CBS wire reports

    INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA wants university officials and student-athletes to focus on recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina rather than worry about infractions, schedule changes or travel restrictions.


    To help, college athletics' governing body may temporarily adjust some of its most restrictive rules.

    Steve Mallonee, the NCAA's managing director for membership services, said Wednesday the NCAA is willing to give athletes and universities more latitude to travel, provide more benefits to athletes' families and even allow students to compete without attending classes because of the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast.

    "Any rule that can negatively impact an institution or the student-athletes, I think we'll be proactive in," Mallonee told the Associated Press. "The message we'd like is that we have a process that can and will be flexible to any of our institutions that are impacted."

    Other potential changes include moving games to different venues, extending seasons, and possibly allowing athletes' families to stay on campuses.

    In past years, schools have postponed or canceled games because of hurricanes and other inclement weather. The NCAA allowed some games to be rescheduled, and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the nation's college games were postponed -- and most were rescheduled.

    Still, the NCAA has a reputation for its rigid stances. The 2003 men's and women's basketball tournaments were not delayed by the start of the Iraq war, the 1981 NCAA championship was played the night President Reagan was shot and some people have complained the organization is prone to following the letter of its voluminous rule book rather than the intent.

    But, the NCAA has never faced anything like this.

    Experts predict it could take months for some areas, including New Orleans, to recover. Classes could be canceled -- making athletes at those schools ineligible under NCAA rules -- while other schools may want to use football stadiums or basketball arenas as relief centers.

    That could force games to be canceled or moved.

    The NCAA hopes a more flexible approach will give schools an opportunity to help communities, allow athletes to assist family and friends and compete on the playing field.

    "The first priority of those schools caught in Katrina's path is the students, staff and families who have been put in harm's way," president Myles Brand said in a statement. "It is too early to say what the exact solutions will be, but the national office will work to accommodate these unique and unfortunate circumstances."

    The impact of the rules changes could be felt from coast to coast. ...
    -09-01-2005, 07:30 PM
  • DJRamFan
    House panel hears from Bloom in probe of NCAA
    by DJRamFan
    Sept. 14, 2004 wire reports

    WASHINGTON -- Jeremy Bloom told a congressional panel Tuesday that the NCAA cut his college football career short without giving him a fair chance to argue his case.

    Bloom, who would have been a junior receiver at Colorado this year, lost his college eligibility because of endorsement deals he received as a professional skier. He is a world champion in freestyle moguls and a 2002 Olympian.

    Officials of the NCAA called Bloom's endorsements willful violations of the rules, unlike similar cases that were deemed misunderstandings. They insisted Bloom had a fair hearing and every opportunity to state his side.

    "In the NCAA, the judgment of the dispute is formed exclusively within the organization by their own members," Bloom told the House Judiciary Committee's panel on the Constitution. "They're the judge, the jury and the executioner."

    Bloom's two-year fight with the NCAA came to an end two weeks before the regular season, when an NCAA panel turned down his final appeal to play football. NCAA rules allow athletes to accept salaries as professionals in other sports, but they aren't allowed to accept money from sponsors.

    Jo Potuto, vice chairwoman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, said the organizing body for college sports gives student athletes due process as required by the Constitution. This is done, she said, despite court decisions that have rejected arguments that the NCAA is a "state actor" and therefore subject to these requirements.

    "An even playing field means more than an evenhanded and consistent application of the rules on the field," Potuto said. "It also means an evenhanded and consistent application of the rules off the field."

    Although Bloom's case got the most attention at the hearing, the larger question of whether Congress should tell the NCAA how it should investigate and adjudicate violations of association rules struck a personal chord with many members of the House panel.

    Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus called the hearing after the NCAA imposed sanctions against two major college athletic programs in his home state of Alabama.

    More than two years ago, the University of Alabama's football program was placed on probation, banned from bowl games and stripped of scholarships for recruiting violations.

    This year, Auburn's basketball program was slapped with probation and a loss of a scholarship amid charges that an AAU coach improperly acted as a representative of the university by arranging to wire money to one high school prospect and get a car for another.

    Bachus didn't bring up the Alabama or Auburn cases during questioning, but he accused the NCAA of trying to "poison the atmosphere" by citing the cases in an NCAA news...
    -09-15-2004, 10:10 AM
  • DJRamFan
    NCAA lets schools know if they're making the grade
    by DJRamFan
    Feb. 15, 2005 wire reports

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Schools will begin receiving information from the NCAA about their teams' academic performance within the next week, a move that could lead to some schools losing scholarships next fall.


    The reports will be made available to the public on Feb. 28.

    NCAA officials said Tuesday they believe about 20 percent of men's basketball teams and 30 percent of football teams risk immediate penalties based on data collected from the 2003-04 school year. But penalties will not be imposed until after officials collect data from 2004-05.

    "I think the vast majority of those at risk will be so far under the cutlines, that it will be a no-brainer," said Wally Renfro, senior adviser to President Myles Brand.

    The penalties are a component in the NCAA's latest academic reform movement, which is based on a new points system that measures the retention and graduation rates of each team.

    An athlete receives one point per semester or quarter for remaining eligible and another point each term for staying in school. The formula will not penalize schools for students who remain academically eligible before transferring, something that count against universities when federal graduation rates are calculated.

    The system also rewards schools for accepting transfers who graduate -- something federal guidelines do not count.

    The NCAA will then calculate each team's total score and divide the number by the most possible points to produce a percentage. A perfect score would translate to 1,000 points, and any team with fewer than 925 points -- equivalent to about a 50 percent graduation rate -- could lose scholarships.

    But because next year's equations are based on only two years of data, rather than the preferred four years, the NCAA also will have a small-squad adjustment formula that could help some teams avoid immediate punishment even if their total score falls below the cutline.

    NCAA vice president Kevin Lennon said that part of the equation was added to avoid anomalies for teams with fewer athletes. Todd Petr, the NCAA's managing director of research, said the adjustment would be calculated like the margin of error in a presidential poll.

    Lennon also insisted schools still had time to change their numbers before next fall.

    "Things can be done right now to avoid these penalties," he said. "But you may have a team that has 80 players and a score of 900 with a different boundary than a team of five at 900."

    Schools could not lose more than 10 percent of scholarships allowed by the NCAA in any one year in each sport. The loss would be for just one year at a time.

    But if the academic numbers don't improve, schools...
    -02-18-2005, 08:53 AM
  • DJRamFan
    NCAA clears Neuheisel, extends Washington's probation
    by DJRamFan
    Oct. 20, 2004 wire reports

    SEATTLE -- Former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel was cleared of wrongdoing by the NCAA on Wednesday for gambling in a college basketball pool, but the university had its probation extended two years.

    Slick Rick walks
    by Dennis Dodd

    What's Your Take?
    Tell Dennis your opinion!

    Washington's NCAA probation -- initially imposed because of men's basketball recruiting violations -- now runs until Feb. 9, 2007. The school was also reprimanded for failing to monitor the football program.

    Thomas E. Yeager, chair of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, said that Neuheisel avoided punishment because the school's compliance officer had written memos mistakenly saying that participation in gambling pools was allowed.

    "Sports wagering is a problem that continues to threaten the well-being of student-athletes and coaches and the integrity of intercollegiate athletics," Yeager said. "If not for unique and unusual mitigating circumstances in this case, the outcome certainly would have been different. This case should not be interpreted in any fashion as a softening of the NCAA's antigambling position."

    The NCAA said it found no proof Rick Neuheisel intentionally broke the rules. (Getty Images)
    Neuheisel coached four seasons at Colorado before compiling a 33-16 record in four seasons with the Huskies, including a Rose Bowl victory.

    Neuheisel was fired in June 2003 by then-athletic director Barbara Hedges after he acknowledging taking part in a high-priced NCAA college basketball tournament pool.

    Neuheisel twice told Hedges that he had never taken part in gambling pools, when in fact he had won $11,219 in two of them - winnings he donated to a local school.

    "The important thing is to realize that, not only did they not impose any penalties on me but also, they came to the conclusion that I did not violate any rules, which is the way I had felt all along," Neuheisel said in an interview with College Sports Television, with whom he works as an analyst.

    The NCAA said in its report it was "very troubled" Neuheisel initially lied, but said that because of the memos, it could find no evidence that he intentionally broke the rules. Neuheisel was never charged with ethical violations for lying because he told the truth later the same day, Yeager said.

    The outcome could lead to Neuheisel's return to college coaching.

    "My hope is that someone will see this as vindication and that they will give me an opportunity. I think that, in the past, I've shown that I can do the job, and do it well," Neuheisel told CSTV.

    University attorney Lou Peterson said it would likely have no impact on a wrongful...
    -10-21-2004, 02:40 PM