By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Big East presidents have agreed on a policy that would bar Connecticut’s men’s basketball team from next season’s conference tournament because the Huskies haven’t qualified academically for the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Spokesman John Paquette confirmed Friday that Big East presidents agreed in principal to the policy during a meeting on March 7 in New York.
“Our presidents conceptually agreed that any team in any sport that is ineligible for postseason NCAA competition that they would not compete in the conference tournament or championship,” he said.
Paquette said official language likely will be adopted in May, with the policy in place next season.
Connecticut president Susan Herbst has said she favors high academic standards in collegiate athletics, but believes banning UConn from next year’s NCAA postseason would punish good students for the actions of those who are no longer at the university.
Herbst on Friday referred questions on the Big East’s policy to new athletic director Warde Manuel, who did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
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 for all NCAA teams in the future. But committee chairman Walter Harrison told The Associated Press last week that issue may not be resolved before July.
Connecticut has been pursuing an appeal that could result in a waiver of the sanctions, arguing that it has made changes that have resulted in significant improvements in the program’s academic performance.
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 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 and the time-consuming nature of compiling the data.
On Thursday, NCAA president Mark Emmert told reporters at the Final Four in New Orleans that the governing body would like to use the most recent data possible “for which we have comparability across all institutions.” But he could not say when the issue of UConn’s eligibility for the tournament would be resolved.
“The reality is this is the first time we’ve gone through this kind of appeal,” he said. “The committee is going to have to look at it and make a decision. The time frame within which that happens is entirely up to them as they work through it.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)