The University of Connecticut men’s basketball team cannot compete for next year’s national championship after the NCAA denied the school’s appeal of a postseason ban based on its athletes’ academic performance.
The Huskies earlier had been ordered to sit out the 2013 NCAA tournament, because of its past players’ sub-par academic performance rate. Led by longtime coach Jim Calhoun, the program had won that tourney last spring and, thus, captured the national title.
The University of Connecticut appealed that ruling, but to no avail, both the school and the NCAA said Thursday.
“It is disturbing that our current players must pay a penalty for the academic performance of students no longer enrolled,” University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst said in a statement. “No educator or parent purposefully punishes young people for the failings of others.”
The NCAA defended the decision, with spokesman Erik Christianson stating “schools have known since 2006″ about the “serious penalties, including postseason restriction” for programs that did not meet set academic requirements.
“Also, in UConn’s first waiver denial, NCAA staff noted the men’s basketball team’s overall lack of academic achievement and minimal academic progress over several years,” Christianson said by e-mail to CNN.
The move is a result of the NCAA’s decision to implement a recommendation, backed by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, to penalize programs that did not or were not on track to graduate at least half of their student athletes.
“If you can’t manage to graduate half of your players, how serious is the institution and the coach and the program about their players’ academic success?” Duncan, who played basketball while attending Harvard, told reporters last spring. “Are you actually preparing your student athletes for success — is it just on the court or in life?”
The NCAA notes that a 930 APR, or academic performance rate, equates to a program being at the fulcrum to meet that criteria — with higher scores indicating that a program is on track to graduate more than half its players, and lower ones indicating it is not.
The APR score for the UConn men’s basketball’s team, based on data from the 2009-2010 academic year, was an 893, according to the NCAA’s website. That led to the NCAA immediately determining that the Huskies must offer two fewer scholarships, as well as setting the stage for next year’s postseason ban.
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