NCAA academic committee considering changes to rating system

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The Indianapolis-based NCAA may start holding schools more accountable for the academic progress of athletes who are graduate transfers.

An increasing number of football and men's basketball players are changing schools after earning diplomas and many end up not earning a second degree. Graduate transfers have been automatically awarded a retention point each semester on Academic Progress Rate scores even if they do not earn a second degree.

Teams whose athletes consistently have low scores can face penalties, including postseason bans.

On Thursday, the Division I academy committee announced it will consider eliminating those automatic retention points. The committee also will consider not allowing grad transfers to be eligible for a retention point if they enroll in undergrad courses.

No formal proposals have been made and the soonest any changes could take effect would be the fall of the 2017-18 academic year.

"This policy change could hold schools accountable for the academic progress of all students and make it more likely that students enrolled in graduate programs will receive the support and encouragement they need to finish their degree," said Ohio University President Rod McDavis, the committee chairman.

APR scores are calculated by awarding each athlete on a team one point per semester if they remain academically eligible and another point per semester if they stay in school. Because grad transfers already have a degree, they've only had to be academically eligible to earn both points for the team.

In a news release, the committee said it became concerned about the course load when it learned that nearly two-thirds of all grad transfers in the two highest-profile sports do not earn second degrees.

At a two-day meeting earlier this week, the debate turned to the possibility of using APR scores to help improve the numbers.

Players who earn their degrees before completing their athletic eligibility can transfer schools and play immediately. Those who transfer without first earning degrees must sit out one year before regaining their eligibility.

The committee also discussed adding a requirement that schools provide two-year scholarships to grad transfers — even if the incoming athlete only has one year of eligibility remaining. That, some believe, would give the post-grad student a better opportunity to earn that second degree.

Others have proposed making grad students sit out the first year and allow them to play the second, something Kentucky coach John Calipari said last summer would reduce the number of grad transfers across the country.

Some opponents contend grad transfers should be rewarded for earning a degree early and that the NCAA should not interfere with the current system.

The committee did approve a measure that will require more enhanced improvement plans from historically black colleges and universities and limited-resource schools that struggle to meet the APR's cutline of 930.

Schools will have to submit plans that include short-term and long-term goals, benchmarks to achieve those goals and a timetable to finish the job. The campus planning team must also include the school's highest academic executive, such as the provost, and representatives from each department that must complete a task.

The committee also is recommending two changes to an academic misconduct proposal that is expected to be voted on in April.

The current proposal would impose a violation regardless of whether an ineligible athlete competed in a contest. McDavis' committee wants the penalty to apply only if an athlete who engaged in academic misconduct plays in games.

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