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Publish date: Feb 25, 2011

Committee on Academic Performance considers
APR penalty-structure changes

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

The Division I Committee on Academic Performance is exploring a new Academic Performance Program penalty structure as part of a package of changes to the APP it will present to the Division I Board of Directors later this year.

In addition to a penalty structure that combines the immediate and historically based penalties in the current structure, the package could include a revised APR penalty benchmark that projects to a minimum 50 percent Graduation Success Rate.

Several APR adjustments, originated outside of CAP, designed to improve the fairness of the rate have affected how it projects to graduation rates, including automatic adjustments for student-athletes who transfer to another four-year institution after earning at least a 2.6 grade-point average. The committee anticipated the adjustments could have this impact and agreed to monitor the situation. Discussions on the issue will continue over the coming months.

Last fall, presidents on the Board of Directors said that they want the APR benchmarks to better correlate with graduation success. CAP members are studying options for both benchmarks and penalty filters that are designed to ensure that the appropriate teams are penalized.

Members supported a revised penalty structure that will simplify application for the membership. The current structure’s immediate penalties were designed to give some penalties in the earlier years of the program before longer-term, more serious penalties kicked in. Now that the program is firmly established as part of the Division I culture, the committee believed that the time was right to combine the two structures.

Possible changes also give the committee more flexibility in customizing penalties to the specific situation of teams and institutions that appear before the committee in hearings after several years of academic performance below the minimum benchmark.

The proposed new penalty structure would be split into levels or “occasions,” similar to the current structure:

  1. Level One: Public notice and a financial aid penalty of 10 percent from the four-year average of total aid awarded. If the team demonstrates improvement, the financial aid penalty would be reduced to 5 percent. For example, a Football Bowl Subdivision team that awards the full complement of scholarships would be penalized nine overall counters and three initial counters at the 10 percent level, while men’s and women’s basketball would be penalized two scholarships.
  2. Level Two: Level One penalties, plus a four-hour-per-week reduction in the playing and practice season (to 16 hours) and a loss of one day. The lost hours must be used for academic purposes. The loss of a day does not apply if improvement is met. For baseball only, a 10 percent reduction to the length of the playing season and number of contests against outside competition will also apply (reduced to 5 percent if improvement is met).
  3. Level Three: All Level One and Level Two penalties, with no automatic reductions for meeting improvement, and a ban from the postseason for one year.
  4. Level Four: All penalties from previous levels, with the financial aid penalty increased to 20 percent. Additional sport-specific playing season restrictions would apply, including:
  5. In all sports, a reduction from eight hours to four hours per week for athletics activities outside of the playing season. The hours must be replaced with academically-focused activities.
  6. Elimination of nontraditional playing season/out-of-season  practice for all sports that maintain a legislated nonchampionship segment as well as football (affected sports include baseball, football, softball, men’s and women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, field hockey, and women’s lacrosse). If imposed on a football team, this penalty would prohibit an institution from conducting spring football.
  7. For sports without a legislated nontraditional playing season, a 10 percent reduction in the length of the playing season and a 10 percent reduction of allowable contests. For men’s and women’s basketball, this would mean a reduction from 29 to 26 contests.
  8. Level Five: All teams reaching Level Five must appear before the committee for a hearing. All penalties from Levels One through Four apply. The committee also could choose from among the following additional penalties: financial penalties above the 20 percent of average aid awarded, additional playing and practice season penalties, restricted membership and additional contest reductions. The contest reductions could include a full-season conference restriction, cancelation of nonconference contests, no competition during an institution’s scheduled exam period or the weeks surrounding the exam period, and additional contest reductions as determined by the committee.

The penalty structure will be one element of the package presented to the Board later this year. Some of the changes would have to be legislated and some would be simply policy changes. For the changes that would require legislation, the CAP would ask the Board to sponsor legislation in the 2011-12 cycle. The first votes on that legislation would occur at the January 2012 NCAA Convention.