Monday, November 24, 2008

Faculty Athletic Representatives Roused into Action?

Yes, occasionally the NCAA proposes something so outrageous, in this case softening academic demands on men's basketball programs, that it happens, as reported by Doug Lederman at Inside Higher Ed:
“The general feeling [of faculty athletics representatives] is that some of what’s in the early stages of the document takes the approach of fixing the APR by tinkering with the matrix instead of getting substantively at why the APR is low in the first place,” said Josephine R. Potuto, the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law and faculty representative at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, who heads a group of faculty representatives from NCAA Division I-A universities that wrote to NCAA leaders last week. “The predominant if not exclusive focus should be on the root causes, not on the APR.” . . .

Faculty athletics representatives from the Pacific-10 Conference, in a November 3 letter to Myles Brand and Dan Guerrero, the athletics director at the University of California at Los Angeles who heads the basketball academic enhancement group, said the problem isn’t that basketball players as a group are less academically prepared, but that the players many Division I colleges have historically chosen to recruit and admit are less prepared for academic success.

“Now, faced with academic penalties as a consequence of such recruitment practices, these programs seek to blame the students they recruited for the lack of success they have experienced,” the Pac-10 faculty leaders write. “[W]e are concerned that this opening statement ... is really meant to provide a justification for recommendations ... that would reduce the impact of the NCAA’s Academic Performance Program ... on men’s basketball.” . . .

The basketball working group’s report does offer several substantive proposals aimed at bolstering the academic performance of basketball players once they’re in college, including performing adequately in several credit hours of required summer school.

But its report focuses heavily on a set of changes that would limit the pain that teams feel when their players fail to make progress toward a degree. One would grant exceptions so that teams would not be punished under the Academic Progress Rate when athletes leave a college because of a coaching change. Another would give teams an extra point when a player graduates early (perhaps making up for points they’ve lost because players haven’t graduated at all). Yet another would provide more leeway (some if already granted) if players leave college early to go pro.

In other words, the proposals would serve to further enable behavior which, with the exception of quick graduation, the NCAA should be discouraging. Progression please Myles, not regression.

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