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DI Board adopts Sweeping Changes in College Sports

The NCAA D1 Board of Directors announced some major changes to collegiate athletics on yesterday afternoon. The changes toughen academic standards and provide increased academic and economic support to student-athletes.

One of the changes they implemented was a stricter rules in terms of academic performance and making it to the postseason.

Earlier this year, the Board had voted to set the minimum academic standard for post-season participation as a 930 Academic Progress Rate (APR). The 930 APR predicts roughly a 50 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR).

The new post-season eligibility structure will take effect in the 2012-13 academic year, with a two-year implementation window before the benchmark moves from 900 to 930. For access to post-season competition in 2012-13 and 2013-14, teams must achieve a 900 multi-year APR or a 930 average over the most recent two years to be eligible.

In 2014-15, teams that don’t achieve the 930 benchmark for their four-year APR or at least a 940 average for the most recent two years will be ineligible for post-season competition.

In 2015-16, the 930 benchmark for post-season competition participation – and additional penalties – will be implemented fully. The APR requirement for post-season competition participation would be waived only in extraordinary circumstances.

The structure will allow for some adjustments for teams that improve once they enter the second level of penalties. The Board provided special allowances for historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and low-resource schools and supported the creation of an HBCU advisory group to study academic performance of student-athletes at those institutions.

In addition, the Board also approved a new three-level penalty structure:

The first level of the new structure limits teams to 16 hours of practice a week over five days, with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities. This represents a reduction of four hours and one day per week of practice time.

The second level adds competition reduction, either in the traditional or nontraditional season, to the first level penalties.

The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, provides for a menu of penalty options, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

As of the latest APR results, there are 10 teams under the 900 APR number while 30 teams are under the 930 standard including Cal State Fullerton and Arizona.

We were able to talk to a current NCAA compliance director about this and he stated the following:

“The new rules about postseason bans for low APRs could keep more teams out of the tournament. It will definitely require coaches to think harder about who they offer scholarships too.”

One of the other changes that the NCAA recommended was a change to the transfers rules.

The Board approved an increase in the transferrable grade-point average from 2.0 to 2.5 and limited the number of physical education activity courses to two. Also, two-year college transfers who didn’t qualify academically out of high school will be required to complete a core curriculum that includes English, math and science courses.

The new transfer requirements will apply to any student-athlete enrolling full-time in college for the first time in August 2012 or later.

Our NCAA compliance director thinks this will make a major difference in college baseball especially with programs that use transfers extensively from the JUCO ranks. He stated “The JC transfer rules will probably have a bigger impact on baseball than any other sport. A jump from 2.0 to 2.5 will be a significant hurdle and non qualifiers who had to go to junior college have an additional science requirement.”

The NCAA also made some changes to the way players are eligible when they enter from high school. The NCAA break down is below.

The Board also adopted new initial eligibility standards. The presidents support a model that creates a higher academic standard for incoming freshman to compete than to receive aid and practice, creating an academic red shirt year.

Hartford University president and Committee on Academic Performance chair Walter Harrison highlights the academic reform passed by the Board of Directors.

Student-athletes who achieve the current minimum initial eligibility standard on the test score-grade-point average sliding scale with at least a minimum 2.0 core-course GPA would continue to be eligible for athletically related financial aid during the first year of enrollment and practice during the first regular academic term of enrollment.  Student-athletes could earn the second term of enrollment for practice by passing nine semester or eight quarter hours.

The proposal increases the standard for immediate access to competition to at least a 2.3 GPA and an increased sliding scale. Specifically, incoming student-athletes would need to earn a half-point higher GPA for a given test score compared to the current standard. For example, an SAT score of 1,000 would require a 2.5 high school core-course GPA for competition and a 2.0 high school core-course GPA for aid and practice.

The presidents also agreed with a recommendation to require prospects to successfully complete 10 of the 16 total required core courses before the start of their senior year in high school. Seven of the 10 courses must be successfully completed in English, math and science.

This legislation will impact student-athletes enrolling in college in August 2015 and later.

The proposal granting two-year college student-athletes a year of academic readiness remains in the 2011-12 legislative cycle and will be voted on for the first time at the NCAA Convention in January 2012.

“We’re trying to balance being tough with being fair. These are noticeably higher standards than in the past, but we recognize we need some time to change behavior,” said Walter Harrison, the Division I Committee on Academic Performance Chair and president of the University of Hartford.

Our NCAA compliance staff member stated “The initial eligibility changes are not coming until 2015, but will impact baseball as well. The partial qualifier would come back, meaning more players redshirting their first year. This means even more players who could be drafted twice and still have the leverage of coming back to school (possibly with a guaranteed scholarship).”

The NCAA also made some changes to the welfare of the student athletes which focuses on College Football and Basketball mostly but could impact the way College Baseball is handled. The NCAA breaks it down below.

The Board also adopted legislation that addresses the miscellaneous costs of attending college. Student-athletes who receive full athletics scholarships or get other school financial aid will have the opportunity to receive additional athletics aid (or other institutional aid, including use of the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund) up to the full cost of attendance or $2,000, whichever is less.

The figure will be adjusted according to the consumer price index, so the presidents will not need to approve new figures when the cost-of-living changes. The Board resolved to not revisit the $2,000 amount for three years.

The new rule makes the additional aid available to student-athletes in head-count sports (football and basketball) and those in equivalency sports who reach the value of a full scholarship.

Pell Grants will be exempted from the calculation, and the Board adopted a best practice to encourage all student-athletes to fill out the federal application for student financial aid. In equivalency sports, only athletically related aid will count toward team limits.

The Board also approved multi-year grants up to the full term of eligibility, though one-year grants will remain the minimum. A prescribed minimum award value should apply to all scholarships (percentage amount to be decided in the coming months), and institutions could increase the allotted aid during the period of the award.

The current restrictions and processes for reducing or canceling aid will be maintained and only non-athletically related conditions for reduction or cancellation will be permitted in aid agreements. Student-athletes will continue to have a hearing opportunity for any reduction or cancellation of aid.

Presidents also voted to allow institutions to provide financial aid to former student-athletes who remain at or return to the institution to complete their degrees after they have exhausted their eligibility.

Our compliance staff member was very opinionated with this change stating:

“With an extra $2000 available to full scholarship players, it will be harder for coaches to give top prospects 80-90% scholarships, since they will be giving up much more. That will impact depth in top programs and mean most of the top pitchers and position players will be on full scholarships.

The multi-year scholarships might cause more top prospects to not sign and enter college. They get the security of three to five year scholarships that colleges could not guarantee them before.

Finally, all non-athletics aid is no longer counted against team scholarship limits (some used to be). This means schools with big endowments for financial aid will be able to stretch the 11.7 scholarships much further than before.”

How do you think these rules will change College Baseball? Feel free to comment below.

  • COHAZE

    Don’t follow your compliance expert’s comment about this resulting in more full scholarships.  For one thing, the $2000 is not mandatory.  Colleges don’t have to do it if they don’t want to or can’t afford it.  The NCAA has encouraged conferences to establish uniform procedures.  I suspect most conferences will decide not to allow schools to give the $2000 to full baseball scholarship recipients for fear of setting up a confrontation between the have and have not schools.

    The rule is also an all or nothing proposition.  If a kid gets a 90% scholarship he gets no part of the $2000, even if the school pays it in full scholarship cases.  

    IMHO full scholarships in baseball will continue to be extremely rare.

    • http://collegebaseballdaily.com Brian Foley

      I think the point he was trying to make was that more schools might offer full-rides for kids based on some of these new rules.