As I’ve learned since I started this beat, there’s a lot of “who’s right?” and “who’s wrong?” conversation that arises when talking UConn men’s basketball.
So, I’ll lay out all the facts and make this dilemma — which, trust me, can be head-spinning– as simple as possible. You decide what UConn deserves.
* In May, UConn reported a four-year rolling Academic Progress Rating (APR) of 893. The NCAA minimum is 925, and the Huskies were docked two scholarships as a result. Case closed, right?
* In October, the NCAA decided to crank up the academic standards required for postseason play. The new rules: For 2013 NCAA tournament eligibility, a school needs a four-year rolling APR of 900 or an 930 for 2009-10 and 2010-11. Because of UConn’s horrendous score in 2009-10 (826), it falls short in both cases.
Argument One: How can you retroactively punish a team? Moreover, how can you punish players who weren’t even at the school when the low APR occurred?
* Walter Harrison, the chairman of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance, said in October that he would like to change the rules so 2013 eligibility is based off scores from 2010-11 and 2011-12. If that’s the case — and the NCAA will decide that on Feb. 20 — UConn is in the clear.
“We would like to be able to change it to have the consequences of ineligibility for the tournament be a little closer to the time that you’re reporting the data for,” Harrison said.
Harrison explained, though, that there are certain obstacles that could prevent a change: Some schools are on semesters, some are on tri-mesters and others operate on quarters. And data collection takes time, Harrison said. NCAA staffers and schools have been talking about speeding up the process.
* On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that UConn filed a waiver so it could skip everything above and get right to the tournament. This way, the Feb. 20 meeting won’t affect the Huskies.
UConn’s proposal: 1.) Play 23 regular season games and the three-game Paradise Jam in 2012-13. Under normal NCAA rules, teams are allowed to play 27 regular games and a three-game tournament 2.) Coach Jim Calhoun will not be permitted to meet off-campus with recruits during the fall 2012 contact period 3.) UConn will forfeit the revenue awarded to the Big East for participating in the tournament.
The NCAA said this waiver is “currently under review.”
UConn is not the only school to fall below APR. It’s just the only school to make its own punishment.
Argument Two: Why should UConn be above the rules? If some of these other schools (Grambling, Southern, Alabama State) don’t ask for — or receive — self-imposed penalties, why should UConn?
Argument Three: All schools are entitled to file a waiver, so why not? Might as well take a shot, right?
In short, that’s what it boils down to: Is the NCAA wrong for punishing UConn twice? Or is UConn wrong for thinking the rules — though retroactive — shouldn’t apply? Or, are they both wrong?
Without getting into my opinion, I’ll make this clear: The NCAA always has the final say. No program, even one with three national titles, can bully the NCAA. And granting these self-imposed penalties would make the NCAA look pretty bad.
So, UConn fans, I wouldn’t be too optimistic. That’s just my gut feeling.