New NCAA Academic rules affect USF

Monday was a monumental day for college sports. As Keith Jackson would say, “Whoa, Nelly. We got a real cow tipper out on the old farm here tonight.”

Hyperbole aside, the NCAA did approve the first phase of an academic reform package in which many universities could possibly lose scholarships for student-athletes.

Known as the Academic Performance Program, the initial setup will be applied to every men’s and women’s college athletic team, and for those keeping track, that’s more than 5,000 teams at 325 Division I schools.

The NCAA Convention, which was held in Grapevine, Texas and wrapped up Monday, released statements which implicated that there will be “contemporaneous penalties” that will serve as warnings, but at the same time be rehabilitative for teams with poor academic standings.

These severe penalties, which have been deemed historical by NCAA, are issued to teams and a football team can lose up to 10 scholarships in one year.

However, consecutive years of poor standing in academics can lead to recruiting penalties, and if grades don’t improve, teams can be withheld from the postseason and have their Division I status threatened.

Recent polls of Division I schools have shown the biggest problems have been in football, baseball and men’s basketball.

Around USF, coaches have always been adamant about having disciplined students who attend class and produce good grades.

Even men’s soccer coach George Kiefer, whose team has received Men’s College Team Academic Awards two out of the three years he has been the coach, is not worried about the rules, stating his players have always had a good track record.

“I’m not concerned as far as our team,” Kiefer said. “Our team has done well academically. So I don’t think we’ll be affected by it. Overall, I think our athletics have done a great job academically and it shows in the team’s GPAs.”

This past season, Kiefer’s team posted a 3.18 GPA and the only men’s team to receive the Academic Award, which recognizes a team with a 3.0 GPA or higher in C-USA.

But men’s basketball coach Robert McCullum knows awards don’t prove you have athletes who are willing to learn — recruiting those players who are motivated to learn does.

“I haven’t had time to totally digest the new policy, but I am aware of what the proposals were,” McCullum said. “Our goals and our philosophy are to bring students who have a realistic chance to graduate. The resources are here and the support is here. And fully expect all our student-athletes to graduate.”