In July 2012, the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance banned the University of Connecticut from the basketball season citing the poor performance it’s college-student level basketball players had received. The Huskies sat out the duration of the 2013 season, as the current rules stated that universities needed to maintain a four-year APR average of 900 or a two-year APR average of 930 in order to be eligible for post-season play. UConn’s 826 for its academic year didn’t make the cut, and the team was not eligible to play in the Big East Tournament.
Now, nearly two years later, it has come to light of the terrible graduation rates for its student players at UConn. Only 8% of its players graduate, according to the most recent NCAA statistics. Breaking it down, that means only 1 player out of 12 manage to receive a college diploma, or even leave the university in good academic standing.
NCAA has had troubles with its student-players, most recently with unionization of the Northwestern University football program. But for academics, this is a new ball game in regards to UConn’s 8%. As a comparison, the University of Florida has a graduation rate of 60% for its college players, and the University of Kentucky fairs even better, at 82%.
Student-athletes are much more the college’s responsibility than any other student type. If a regular student struggles with academics, they can get their federal financial aid pulled if they don’t meet its requirements, but the university itself doesn’t receive a penalty. But with student-players, it’s different. Colleges are responsible for their success in the classroom and can suffer the consequences, like being banned from tournaments. Universities look forward to promoting their school through such events, and can be a huge blow to them financially.
But the NCAA doesn’t punish based on the graduation rates, rather they use what they call “academic progress rate.” And UConn has been frantically trying to improve its current male basketball players’ performance in the classroom. The 8% rate is during the years 2003-2006, and if the university pushes their athletes to become more diligent in their studies, an improvement is all the university needs.
The NCAA’s calculation is different than the federal government’s, as they take into account students dropping out of college to go into professional leagues or transfer for other college programs. With UConn taking it seriously, one can only hope their success will be on the rise, and their athletes will get the education they deserve.