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NCAA to Consider Academic Incentives

October 08, 2003|Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writer

In its ongoing effort to make Division I schools more accountable for academic performance, the NCAA said Tuesday it had proposed two additional ways of measuring the progress of student-athletes toward graduation.

Each academic yardstick would be linked to a new proposal, a so-called Incentive-Disincentive program that would reward top-performing schools and punish those that come up short.

Schools with consistently high academic success could be rewarded with greater cuts of NCAA playoff payouts or more scholarships, for instance. Schools that continually fail to make the grade could lose scholarships or face postseason bans.

If the proposal is passed in an April vote, the NCAA said it would be able to better track the academic success of all scholarship athletes, including those who transfer and graduate at a new school, and also get a clearer picture of academic progress.

The NCAA now monitors academic success by federally mandated and often-criticized graduation rates, which give student-athletes six years to graduate. Transfers who graduate from their new schools, athletes who leave school early to join the professional ranks and those who take longer than six years to graduate are not counted in the graduation rates.

NCAA Vice President Kevin Lennon called the current graduation rate system "flawed" and said the new proposals would "treat transfer students differently. Transfers will no longer count against their old schools."

What's more, as long as an athlete was in good academic standing when he turned professional, his departure would not count against the school's graduation rate, Lennon said.

Schools have been asked to collect academic data for 2003-04 and 2004-05 and "after 2004-05, institutions will be subject to penalties," Lennon said. The penalties would begin with probationary warning letters, then increase to a possible loss of scholarships, recruiting limits and postseason bans if academic performance continues to lag.

In other news, the NCAA is close to approving a change in the distance of the three-point line in basketball, moving it to 20 feet 6 inches from 19 feet 9 inches beginning in the 2004-05 season. Final approval is expected to be announced later this month.

In addition, the championship committee has decided against switching to the trapezoidal lane used in international play, sticking with the rectangular lane.

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