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Graduation Rates

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Besides Oklahoma, Memphis and Utah State also have 0 percent rates. Other NCAA Tournament men's teams that might be in trouble if the system was in place today include Louisville and Missouri (each at 10 percent), Alabama and Colorado (13 percent), Arizona and Cal (15 percent), LSU and Cincinnati (17 percent), Utah (20 percent), and last year's national champion, Maryland (14 percent)."

"Division I universities are increasingly vulnerable to the charge that they're really into college basketball and football for financial, not educational, reasons. Revenues in those sports continue to rise, fueling a pay-for-play bill in Nebraska and growing skepticism about whether schools do right by athletes. In a December issue of Business Week, the NCAA was declared to be "the best little monopoly in America" -- more impressive than Microsoft or even the U.S. Postal Service -- by a panel of Harvard economists.

Reforming accountability 

Five key questions to be addressed in the coming months that will help determine whether the school presidents who run the NCAA are serious about improving the academic performance of athletes in revenue sports such as basketball and football:

Will players who leave school early count against the graduation rate?

Coaches only want to count recruits who exhaust their eligibility at the school they started at as freshmen. But failing to count recruits who drop out or transfer to another school gives coaches one less reason to keep from running off unproductive players. NCAA leaders appear willing to discount athletes who left early in "good academic standing," although there's some discomfort with one-and-out stars using college as nothing more than a temporary springboard to the NBA.

What constitutes "good academic standing"?

Each university draws up its own rules for that term, as do individual colleges within each university. At some schools, it's easy to fall out of "good academic standing." At others, it may take several semesters of poor grades to lose that status. To level the playing field, there's talk about using the NCAA's continuing eligibility standards as the measurement. If an athlete is eligible to play, he's golden.

How low is too low?

If the NCAA stops counting transfers and uses a more puffed-up graduation rate, the Knight Commission's suggestion of a 50 percent minimum mark for schools to remain eligible for postseason play might seem conservative. Ultimately, factors such as progression toward degree will count as well, potentially giving whatever metric emerges a BCS-like complexity. Resolve to punish academic laggards could be compromised by commercial and legal concerns.

How much sunshine?

Ben Howland, new UCLA coach, says he worries that a penalty system will force athletes to seek easy majors, or those that won't do them any good after college, because teams don't want to be punished. Those forces are already at play in keeping athletes eligible for competition, but it's a valid concern. The Drake Group, made up national faculty members, wants greater transparency -- lists of courses and teachers favored by athletes -- as a check on abuse.

What about sport demands on athletes?

If you want athletes to be students, give them time to be students, some say. Gerry Gurney, Oklahoma's academic chief for athletics, favors containing each sport to one semester. But increasingly, participating in college sports is becoming a year-round commitment. Nowhere in the current set of academic reform proposals is there any discussion of cutting back on the number of (often lucrative) games.

All of the above is from: http://msn.espn.go.com/ncb/s/2003/0403/1533643.html


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