NCAA Academic Report Hits Black Schools

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 2, 2007; 6:55 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA's latest academic progress report shows money pays off in the classroom, not just on the playing field. Athletic programs with the biggest budgets, such as the six BCS conferences, scored well on the latest Academic Progress Report, released Wednesday. Those with less money did not.

Among the hardest-hit schools were those in the Hurricane Katrina region and predominantly black colleges. Teams at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) accounted for about 13 percent of schools facing punishment because of poor classroom performance, and 13-of-49 schools receiving warning letters came from Louisiana.

NCAA President Myles Brand said he believes money supersedes racial or regional divides.

"It's more about low-income, low-resource schools," he said. "We're concerned about all schools with a low-support basis, and there are a number of HBCUs in that category. We're trying to provide them with the resources to do better."

This is the first time the NCAA has sent out warning letters based on academic performance.

The NCAA compiles an APR, which measures eligibility and retention of student athletes, for every program at every Division I school.

Teams scoring less than 925 _ the equivalent of a 60 percent graduation rate under the NCAA's formula _ received warning letters and could face harsher sanctions over the next three years. A second offense during that time would result in a reduction of practice time or games played. A third offense would result in disqualification from NCAA tournaments.

Louisiana-based Nicholls State received the second-most warning letters in four sports: baseball, men's cross country and women's indoor and outdoor track.

BCS teams, however, accounted for only 11 of 112 penalized teams, and no school from the BCS conferences received a warning letter. The most prominent programs cited were Arizona's football team and the men's basketball teams at Cincinnati and Iowa State, which could all lose scholarships next year.

"If you do have more resources, I think that you do have a better opportunity," Texas Southern athletic director Alois Blackwell said after receiving five warning letters, the most nationally. "When you don't, I'm not saying you can't, but it makes it a little more difficult for you to do it."

HBCUs received more than 50 waivers, excusing them from penalties for now, NCAA vice president Kevin Lennon said. The NCAA did not have the figures on how many hurricane-affected schools got waivers.

Brand praised New Orleans' Tulane University for its strong academic performance despite Hurricane Katrina _ all seven of its teams scored 940 or better.

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