NCAA data shows SDSU football program not making grade

UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

5:35 p.m. May 6, 2008

The San Diego State football program ranks fifth-worst among 119 Division I-A teams in its four-year Academic Progress Rate, according to data released Tuesday by the NCAA.

The NCAA has put the Aztecs' football and baseball teams on public notice for having poor historical records in the APR and will hit them with additional scholarship and practice time limitations if they do not improve this year. The Aztecs football team already has been penalized with six scholarship reductions over the next two years because of its poor APR, as previously reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune. The SDSU baseball team will be docked three one-hundredths (.03) of a scholarship, according to the NCAA.

Academic progress rates

Five best
No. / School / APR

1. Stanford 986
2. Navy 979
3. Duke 977
(tie) Rutgers 977
5. Air Force 976

Five worst
115. SDSU 889
116. Fla. Inter. 887
117. Ala.-Birm. 869
118. Temple 868
119. San Jose St. 865

Note: Last year there were 119 Football Bowl Subdivision teams (formerly known as Div. I-A). The APRs cover four years from 2003-04 to 2006-07.

Those two teams are among just 3.5 percent of all Division I teams (218 of 6,272 teams in all sports) to be sanctioned for poor performance.

“The real standard here is the academic success of student-athletes and not necessarily the penalties, but the penalties themselves indicate we take this very seriously,” said Walter Harrison, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance.

Only San Jose State (865), Temple (868), Alabama-Birmingham (869), and Florida International (887) have worse four-year APRs in Division I-A football than SDSU (889). Stanford (986) and Navy (979) have the best.

The APR was introduced by the NCAA in 2005 and measures the retention and eligibility of student-athletes. It is now a rolling four-year rate and this year measures the 2003-04 academic year through 2006-07, head coach Chuck Long's first season.

SDSU has underperformed each year in football and baseball, starting in 2005, when SDSU had the third-worst football APR in Division I-A (848).

In 2006, the NCAA hit SDSU football with a five-scholarship penalty, which was reduced to four on appeal. Last year, the NCAA penalized SDSU with three scholarship losses, but the Aztecs had that penalty waived under the condition that SDSU reach a single-year APR of 925 for the 2006-07 academic year. It failed to meet that condition this year. As a result, it was hit with the maximum nine-scholarship penalty, which was reduced to six on appeal.

Long, hired in December 2005, and Athletic Director Jeff Schemmel, hired in July 2005, have characterized football's APR struggles as problems rooted in the past. They said they expect it to turn around soon and have noted improvements made in academic support for athletes, including the hiring of a learning specialist.

“We made so many changes in how we handle academics here,” Schemmel said.

In a release to the media Tuesday, SDSU noted that 13 of its 18 sports showed improvement in their APRs. No other SDSU teams were penalized. However, none ranked above the 60th percentile within its sport over four years.

Regarding baseball and football, Colleen Evans, SDSU's student-athlete academic support services director, said both teams went through an extensive review that included faculty and staff. Both have academic improvement plans in place.

“Both (baseball) coach Tony Gwynn and coach Chuck Long are 100 percent on board with these plans,” Evans said. “I expect that we will see immediate improvement, but it is worth mentioning that with four years of data included in the multiyear average, it may take two or three years before we see baseball and football reach 925 (the NCAA minimum cut score). As long as the trend is up, we'll be fine.”

This year's penalties mean SDSU football is limited to 79 scholarships overall, six under the maximum. It also is limited to 22 scholarships to new recruits, three under the maximum. Long anticipated the penalty in the latter and signed only 21 recruits in February.

SDSU baseball is limited to 11.67 scholarships, .03 under the normal maximum. SDSU baseball (879 APR) has suffered partial scholarship reduction penalties the past three years.


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