WASHINGTON – Athletics programs at several Maryland colleges are failing academically, and one will lose a pair of scholarships, according to data released Wednesday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Teams at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Towson University, Coppin State University and Morgan State University received subpar scores on the Academic Progress Rate, a formula calculating academic eligibility and retention of student-athletes. Teams failing to meet a minimum score risk losing scholarships and, ultimately, their NCAA membership.
All teams at the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the U.S. Naval Academy achieved the minimum score. Nationwide, 99 Division I teams — less than 2 percent of the total — will lose scholarships.
Under the APR, teams earn “points” for each scholarship player academically eligible at the beginning and the end of a semester. The lowest permitted average score is 0.925, which equates to a graduation rate of 50 percent. A temporary exemption spared some low-scoring teams from penalties this time around because the APR is a four-year system but has been in effect for only two.
Men’s basketball didn’t fare so well at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, which will lose two scholarships as a result of the team’s failing mark. The team is one of 17 in Division I men’s basketball that must cut scholarships by next year without affecting incoming students.
Acting Athletics Director Keith Davidson said the score was due to a coaching change and several players who transferred. The team used only 11 of a maximum 13 scholarships this season, so the impact of the penalty will be minimal, he added.
“It’s not as devastating a change as people might think,” Davidson said. “It does not change how we approach things.”
The college’s athletics department is assembling an academic recovery plan to help student-athletes graduate after they have exhausted their eligibility, he said.
“Overall, when we compare ourselves to the rest of the country, I don’t think we fared that badly,” Davidson said. “When I look at the score of our men’s basketball team, there are things that can be easily corrected.”
The baseball, men’s cross country and women’s basketball teams also received below-minimum scores, but they will not be penalized due to a “squad size” adjustment in the formula that will be removed after the 2006-07 academic year.
At Morgan State University, women’s bowling and softball did not meet the minimum score, but they will not be penalized also because of the adjustment.
“We don’t want to do that, but at this stage it’s valuable to us because it shows we have work to do,” said Athletics Director Floyd Kerr. “We have to make adjustments to our academic support system and how we bring student-athletes in, and we’ll pay closer attention to that.”
At Coppin State University, seven teams scored below the cutoff: baseball, softball, men’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s tennis, women’s indoor track and women’s outdoor track. The adjustment brings these teams above the minimum as well.
The Towson University men’s basketball team was also saved by the adjustment. Athletics Director Wayne Edwards blamed the team’s low score on a coaching change and a player who transferred.
“If our numbers were like this because kids were flunking out of school, I’d be really concerned,” Edwards said.
A passing grade was a step in the right direction for the men’s basketball team at the University of Maryland, College Park, which scored far below average on the Graduation Success Rate earlier this year. The GSR reflects graduation rates of scholarship players over a four-year period, but does not involve penalties — unlike the APR.
“We’re extremely happy that all of our teams are above the cut scores,” said Anton Goff, assistant athletic director for academic support and career development. “Our coaches and administration are all committed to excellence, and we plan to continue to do so.”
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