By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut may not find out before this summer whether the NCAA will adopt academic rules changes that would allow the Huskies men’s basketball team to qualify for the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Under rules approved in October, the defending national champions would be academically ineligible in 2013, because the NCAA plans to use data from the 2009-10, and 2010-11 school years, when Connecticut’ scores were too low to meet the threshold.
The NCAA’s Committee on Academic Performance has been discussing whether it would be possible to use data from 2010-11 and 2011-12 to determine eligibility.
Committee chairman Walter Harrison told The Associated Press Thursday that the committee plans to meet for three days in April, but it’s not clear whether the academic reporting question can be resolved this spring, or will need further discussion when the committee meets in the summer.
NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said the April gathering is primarily to hold penalty hearings for other teams that failed to meet the old APR standards. It would be “unlikely (the committee) will discuss the data timing issue or other policy issues” at that time.
“We don’t know yet how many hearings we will need to hold in April,” Harrison said via email. “That will determine how much time we can spend on the matter of the timing of penalties. So, I’m not comfortable with the word `likely.’ All I can say now is that we hope to have concluded our review of this policy question in either April or July.”
Harrison’s committee could implement the changes, decline to do anything, or refer recommendations to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.
Connecticut is also separately pursuing an appeal that could result in a waiver of the sanctions, arguing that it has made significant changes that have resulted in significant improvements in the program’s academic performance.
The original request for a waiver was denied by NCAA staff and that appeal is now before a subcommittee of Harrison’s committee. UConn officials have not been told when that appeal might be acted upon.
“They don’t give us updates until they rule one way or another,” said UConn spokesman Phil Chardis.
The timing is important because underclassmen face an April 29 deadline to declare for the NBA draft. UConn freshman center Andre Drummond and sophomore guard Jeremy Lamb are among those considered likely candidates to do that, especially if the school is declared ineligible for next year’s tournament.
Center Alex Oriakhi, who would be a senior next year, informed the school this week that he intends to transfer. His father told the Hearst Connecticut Media Group that he made that decision because of the NCAA eligibility issue. If the NCAA rules UConn ineligible for next season’s tournament, Oriakhi, because he would be in his final year of eligibility, could play at another Division I school immediately.
But if UConn is declared eligible for the 2013 postseason, Oriakhi would have to sit out a year. Underclassman would have to sit out a year either way.
Connecticut which finished this season 20-14 and lost in its opening game of the NCAA tournament, will not officially find out whether it is banned from the next year’s postseason until May when the latest Academic Progress Rate report is released.
Under the new rules, a school must have a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average of 900 on the NCAA’s annual APR, which measures the academic performance of student athletes.
Connecticut men’s basketball scored 826 on the APR for 2009-10. School officials have said it will come in at just above 975 for 2010-11. The scores are expected to be higher in 2011-12.
Harrison, who also is the president of the University of Hartford, has said it’s not yet clear if a change in reporting is
feasible, given the number of schools, programs and athletes involved in reporting data to the NCAA, the varying schedules of the schools involves, and the time-consuming nature of compiling the data.
That is what the committee will be discussing in either April or July.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)