Responding to concerns by college coaches, the NCAA will adjust its academic reform package so schools that lose non-seniors to professional leagues won't be penalized as long as the athletes remain academically eligible.
A non-senior must be drafted and remain eligible throughout his final semester in order for the program not to lose one retention point, which is used in calculating Academic Progress Rate scores. Teams with APR scores less than 925, based on a program's ability to retain eligible athletes, are subject to a loss of scholarships beginning next year.
However, several top men's basketball coaches said last month that it's virtually impossible to keep a player in school after he declares for the NBA draft in the spring.
In response, NCAA President Myles Brand said yesterday that the model is North Carolina, which won the 2005 national title but lost four non-seniors to the NBA, all of whom finished the semester, he said, adding, "North Carolina will have an APR above 925."
The NCAA also announced that teams will not be penalized for players who leave for reasons deemed out of the control of the school or player, such as a death in the family.
Some men's basketball coaches said last month that the APR impedes discipline because their program's score will be hampered should they choose to dismiss an athlete who violates team rules.
Walter Harrison, chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance, said yesterday that such instances, including players being dismissed because of failed drug tests, are in the control of the player or school. "Both coaches and players," he said, "should take responsibility for their behavior."
-- Eric Prisbell