NCAA revamps athletic academic requirements

Ryan Loew

Failing academics across the country threaten student athlete scholarships, but at Kent State, only one team has not met NCAA guidelines.

Last week the NCAA released its new academic progress rate, which measures the success and eligibility of scholarship athletes at every athletic program at every Division I school.

The rate is part of a larger academic reform package by the NCAA designed around the goal of student success and graduation, President Carol Cartwright said. Cartwright is also on the Division I Board of Directors.

“Academic progress rate is a way of sending a very strong message to a program that it needs to improve in terms of the academic performance of its student athletes,” she said.

Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said baseball was the only sport with a rate below the NCAA’s standards.

The reason, Kennedy said, was because two team members left to play professionally, but Kent State will be able to appeal the rating because they were drafted, not dropouts.

This first round of progress ratings doesn’t penalize schools but is strictly informational, Cartwright said. Penalties won’t begin until next fall.

“Baseball is a challenging sport because many students leave early if they feel they have an opportunity in professional baseball,” Cartwright said, “and that’s all over the country.”

Four out of Kent State’s 18 teams got perfect scores, Kennedy said, while several others were above the cutline.

More than half of the Division I schools, 183 of the 326 members, had at least one athletic program with a subpar rating, USA Today reported. Baseball, football and men’s basketball were the biggest problem areas.

The rate tracks whether athletes remain at a particular school and stay academically eligible and ultimately graduate, according to USA Today.

Points are awarded to every player, and the NCAA has ruled that teams should have a total of 92.5 percent of their possible 925 total points. This projects a 50 percent graduation rate.

An athlete who remains eligible or graduates receives two of possible two points, and one point is awarded to a student who is drafted. An athlete scores no points if he or she becomes academically ineligible to play.

“It’s a management tool that now indicates to us where we need to make some changes in how we administrate our financial aid,” Kennedy said, “how we measure success with our student athletes.

“It’s an early alert to let programs know where they stand,” she said. “It will be an important tool over the next several years.”

Penalties will eventually take two forms, short term and long term, for schools with low rates. A short-term penalty denies a school from replacing a scholarship athlete who leaves because of academic ineligibility while a long-term penalty means a team could be barred from postseason play.

Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].