U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is backing a call from the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to toughen the academic requirements and revenue distribution system for NCAA postseason basketball.
A Knight Commission analysis released Thursday in Tampa, Fla., found that, over the past five years, nearly $179 million was earned for athletic conferences by tournament teams that weren’t on course to graduate at least half their players.
The commission developed its report with help from research by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics that showed 10 of the 68 teams in the men’s tournament this year didn’t meet the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate goal of being on track to graduate at least 50 percent of their players. Duncan and Knight Commission officials believe only teams that meet the threshold should qualify for tournament play. Their position was supported by the NAACP and UCF researchers.
Teams that aren’t graduating players “should simply not have a chance to compete,” Duncan said during a teleconference. “If you can’t manage to graduate half of your players, how serious is a coach and the institution about their players’ academic success?”
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Under the NCAA’s revenue distribution plan, each game played in the NCAA basketball tournament in 2011 earns more than $1.4 million for each team’s conference.
Of the $409 million distributed in the five most recent tournaments under the NCAA’s formula for rewarding performances, the Knight Commission reported that nearly 44 percent was earned by teams with APRs below 925, equivalent to graduating half of a team’s players.
UCF’s institute released its annual reports this week on the graduation rates of teams that qualified for both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments.
It found a 2 percent overall graduation rate increase to 66 percent for men’s Division I players, with 76 percent of men’s programs in the tournament graduating at least 50 percent of their players.
All the teams competing in the women’s NCAA tournament graduated at least 50 percent of their players. And 91 percent of the teams graduated at least 70 percent of their players, compared to 48 percent of the men’s tourney teams.
Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried had his 28th double-double of the season, tops in the nation, when he scored 12 points to go with his 17 rebounds in Thursday’s 62-61 win over Louisville.
Faried upped his career total to 85, moving him into second place on the NCAA’s all-time list ahead of Virginia’s Ralph Sampson.
“All coaches use the cliche that rebounders, every shot is a pass to you,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. “He’s the only one I’ve seen since Dennis Rodman truly make that statement true.”
NO OFFENSE, SIR
Oakland coach Greg Kampe didn’t mind when he was told that President Barack Obama picked against his team in his bracket. The No. 13 seed Golden Grizzlies open the NCAA tournament against No. 4 seed Texas today. “I didn’t vote for him either, so I guess we’re even,” Kampe joked.
Baylor’s Perry Jones will miss the first five games next season, plus repay $700 in impermissible benefits, after an NCAA reinstatement committee upheld an earlier ruling that declared him ineligible. Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland is stepping down after six seasons – with losing records in the last four – to take an administrative job in the athletic department for the final two years of his contract.