bullwark Posted May 6, 2008 Group: Member Topic Count: 0 Content Count: 2,923 Reputation: 29 Days Won: 1 Joined: 07/12/2003 Share Posted May 6, 2008 From Brett McMurphy and Adam EmersonLinkhttp://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/may/05/usf-escapes-academic-penalties/?news-breaking#TAMPA - The University of South Florida's efforts to overhaul its academic support for student-athletes persuaded the NCAA to withhold penalties the school would have faced in its latest progress report.USF had faced the loss of scholarships this school year because of the weakened academic performance of its football and baseball players. But the NCAA decided to waive any sanctions, provided players on those teams showed progress for the 2007-08 school year.Each team fell below the cutoff that measures success in the NCAA's newest academic progress report of Division I schools, set to be released today. USF, however, "implemented several academic initiatives, which the institution asserts has had a positive influence on the team's academic performance," according to NCAA documents the university released Monday to The Tampa Tribune.Early last school year, the university revoked much of the discretion coaches had in recruiting athletes with poor grades and test scores by forming a faculty committee charged with vetting academically risky prospects before admitting them. The school's undergraduate studies division also took oversight of the Athletic Department's academic support network of tutors and advisers.USF Provost Ralph Wilcox increasingly has made improving the academic progress of student-athletes a priority, and he said he was pleased the NCAA recognized the university's reforms."We have a responsibility to provide the support and programs to assure their academic success," said Wilcox, who helped reform athletic programs plagued by scandals at the University of Memphis and the University of Houston before coming to USF in 2002.The NCAA's Academic Progress Report (APR) calculation measures eligibility and retention of student-athletes and is based on reforms the NCAA adopted several years ago to improve the success and graduation rates of student-athletes.USF athletics officials say they're on track to meet the NCAA's conditions. The football team, accounting for its performance from the 2007-08 school year, must score at least a 937 on a 1,000-point scale and the baseball team must reach 945. If they don't, they face the loss of scholarships.The football team's most recent score is 917, which is based on academic performance and retention from the previous three school years. USF Senior Associate Athletic Director Bill McGillis said the team is on track to score as high as 945. The baseball team's current score of 923 could reach as high as 950, McGillis said."We're already excited about the improvements we're starting to see," said Amy Haworth, USF's associate athletic director for academics.This year, each team fell below the NCAA's 925 threshold, which equates roughly to a 50 percent graduation rate.The football team also fell below the 925 mark last year, but until now colleges and universities have escaped punishment because of a margin of error known as the squad-size adjustment.The NCAA has now lifted that adjustment because it has four years' worth of data with which to judge a team's academic performance. That means that dozens of schools could face the loss of scholarships.Of USF's eight men's sports teams, six Ã¢â‚¬â€ baseball, basketball, cross country, football, soccer and track Ã¢â‚¬â€ had APR scores below the Division I average in each sport. USF's women's sports teams fared better. Cross country, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and volleyball failed to meet the Division I average.USF's most successful program Ã¢â‚¬â€ on and off the field Ã¢â‚¬â€ was softball. The Bulls, who on Sunday won the first Big East regular-season title of any USF sport, had a 997 APR.That academic ranking placed USF's softball program among the nation's top 10 percent in the sport."I'm proud of both accomplishments," Coach Ken Eriksen said. "Winning on the field tastes a lot better right now, because we're also winning off the field."The University of Florida's men's basketball team had a 919 APR but was not penalized because it met one of the five NCAA exceptions. The Gators' volleyball team had a perfect 1,000 score. Florida State's APR information was not provided by the school."This recent Academic Progress Report shows that our student-athletes are accomplishing their most important mission Ã¢â‚¬â€ receiving a degree from the University of Florida," Florida AD Jeremy Foley said. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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