Some CSUN teams do not meet requirements of new NCAA academic standards

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CSUN’s baseball and soccer team’s do not meet the minimum standards set by a new program instated by the National Collegiate Athletics Association meant to calculate student athletes’ academic progress.

In order to meet the minimum requirement of the Academic Progress Rate, teams must obtain a minimum score of 925.

According to the NCAA website, the total of CSUN’s APR is 919. Baseball is 862 in the 10-20 percentile, basketball is 925 in the 40-50 percentile, golf is 929 in the 20-30 percentile, soccer is 915 in the 20-30 percentile, and swimming is 958 in the 30-40 percentile.

Ryan Finney, assistant athletic director for media relations, said since the program’s penalties have not yet been instated, it gives CSUN an opportunity to see where its teams rank, and to make the necessary changes.

According to Jennifer Kearns, associate director of public relations for the NCAA, the NCAA released the progress rates of athletic teams at various schools across the country on Feb.21, in order for student athletes and universities to see where they rank.

The progress rates are also intended to hold schools accountable, in order to make sure they make necessary changes to improve in academics.

“It represents one of the most far reaching academic reforms the NCAA has done in decades,” Kearns said.

The progress rates are calculated on a 1,000-point scale, by giving points for eligibility and retention, which are the two best indicators of student graduation rates, Kearns said.

Kearns said one point is given to each player on a team for being academically eligible, and one point for staying with the institution. The number of points is then divided by the total points possible, in order to get the rate.

The cutoff rate is 925, meaning students below the cutoff rate will be subject to penalization. The cutoff rate equates to a 50 percent graduation rate.

The institutions with teams that fall below the cutoff rate will be notified and subject to penalties by December 2005.

According to Kearns, contemporaneous penalties occur when a team’s APR is below the 925 cutoff rate, and when the team loses at least one student athlete due to academic ineligibility. The penalty is losing the grant or financial aid provided to that student. Historical penalties have not yet been finalized, but will be based on APR scores and graduation success rates.

Kearns said this program was brought about only to bring awareness to universities and student athletes of their standing so that they can improve their academic progress and avoid the penalties the following year.

“It serves as a wake-up call,” Kearns said. “It puts them on alert. Or (else they) suffer the penalties.”

When a student athlete transfers out of the institution, the team would lose the retention point but still retain the student’s academic eligibility point, Kearns said. Also, if a student transfers to an institution, the academic history of that student can apply to the APR rate, and the university will receive credit for it.

“We are looking at it to see how to raise those scores,” Finney said.

He said it is still too early to tell what programs are going to be used to improve these scores, but a solution is in serious consideration.

Finney said one of the issues is that transfer rates for student athletes are higher than for non-student athletes, and therefore they lose retention points.

According to Finney, another issue with retention is the number of international students, and students who come from other states, who move back home for various reasons.

“We lose more points due to retention (loss) than academic illegibility,” Finney said.

According to Finney, even if an athlete is no longer on the team, his or her academic eligibility and university retention points still go toward the team’s cumulative points, which would affect scholarship oppurtunities.

The student athletes also have to meet university requirements in order to stay on a team, including satisfying the GPA requirements, or else suffering penalties within the university, such as academic probation, he said.

According to Kearns, there is no tracking system within the NCAA to verify the scores that the institutions provide to calculate the APR.

Kearns said the NCAA believes that institutions will be truthful in the numbers they provide. If it is discovered that they do not, they will face serious penalties and could ultimately lose their membership in the NCAA.

“I have every confidence that people turning in that information (are as) accurate as possible,” Finney said. “Because it can be (verified).”