Grapevine, Texas The NCAA approved the first phase of a landmark academic reform package Monday under which about 30 percent of Division One football teams would have lost scholarships had it been implemented immediately.
On the last day of the NCAA convention, the Division One Board of Directors approved the plan that calls for scholarship reductions for teams that perform poorly in the classroom.
The Academic Performance Program applies to every men's and women's sport -- more than 5,000 teams at the 325 Division I schools.
Schools will receive reports in the next few weeks that let them know which of their teams fall below standards set by the Division One Committee on Academic Performance. That will serve as an initial warning.
University of Hartford president and committee chairman Walter Harrison said the biggest problems were in football (about 30 percent of teams), baseball (25 percent) and men's basketball (20 percent).
"Our hope, of course, is not the penalty," Harrison said. "We hope it encourages different kinds of behavior so that the numbers will be lower."
The so-called "contemporaneous penalties" are considered rehabilitative in nature and expected to serve as warnings for teams with poor academic performance. Such penalties could begin after the 2005 fall semester.
Another phase of the program will be historical penalties, which will be more severe and directed at schools with continued problems. Harrison's committee is still working on the penalties, and they will have to be approved by NCAA directors later.
Kansas University chancellor Robert Hemenway, the chairman of the NCAA board, said the board already endorsed those tougher penalties.
Academic reform has been a centerpiece issue for Myles Brand since he became NCAA president two years ago. In his state of the association address Saturday, he said the measures "will change the culture of college sports."
There will be two different measurements of academic performance used in the program.
The Academic Progress Rate (APR) will be based on the number of student-athletes on each team who achieve eligibility and return to campus full-time each term. There will also be a longer-term graduation success rate.
Beginning next fall, teams that fall under a minimum APR -- based roughly on a 50-percent graduation rate over a five-year period -- will lose scholarships when players who are academically ineligible leave the school.
The committee did put a 10-percent cap on the number of scholarships teams could lose.
Based on 85 total scholarships, I-A football teams could lose no more than nine scholarships in any one year. Both men's and women's basketball could only lose up to two scholarships.
Teams that continue to have problems will be subject to the more severe penalties once the "historical penalties" are put into place.
Consecutive years of falling below certain academic standards would lead to recruiting and further scholarship restrictions. A third straight year could lead to being banned from preseason or postseason games, and a fourth would affect Division I membership status.