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Tuesday, October 25, 2011
No APR change for 2012 tournament

By Eamonn Brennan

NCAA president Mark Emmert nearly made massive news Monday. As Diamond noted in a blog post, USA Today and Bloomberg reported that NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance could reserve the ability to institute new Academic Progress Rate requirements for participation in the 2012 NCAA tournament. That would have been a big story, you see, because under the newer, stricter requirements, Connecticut -- your 2011 NCAA champion -- wouldn't have been allowed in the tournament in the first place and wouldn't be eligible to participate in 2012.

Needless to say, that got Connecticut fans a little worried. Connecticut president Susan Herbst addressed the media and made clear that while she was in favor of ensuring stricter requirements for postseason competition, she felt, according to the Hartford Courant:
"[T]hat institutions need time to prepare, to make sure that all of their academic supports are in place, so that players and coaches are ready to meet the expectations of presidents and the NCAA. … I don't know that the ramp-up time is settled yet, in the discussions."

It's a big change, one that will force a number of college basketball teams to focus even more intently on academics, and it would have been instituted in such a short time that its adaptation would have been extremely difficult for some schools. Fair enough.

Turns out Herbst was right; the timeframe wasn't settled, and it isn't going to happen this year. Emmert discussed the possibility of change on a conference call today, and he confirmed the rule change would not go into effect this season. As Sporting News scribe Mike DeCourcy tweeted:
NCAA is not moving to raise APR minimum for 2012 tournament. Emmert said stories that indicated that was plan based on "miscommunication." Asked NCAA prez Mark Emmert if it was fair to change rules in middle of game, raise APR minimum to 900 for 2012 NCAA Tourney. His answer-No.

More likely, the rule will change by the 2012-13 seasons, which gives schools more time to improve their overall APR performances.

We've talked a lot about NCAA rules this week; Emmert's appearance at the Knight Commission Monday made sure of that. And there are a lot of rule changes to work through right now. The NCAA is overhauling its rulebook, attempting to streamline recruiting, and moving quickly on cost of attendance scholarships -- among other potential changes -- in what for the NCAA must be considered light speed.

The APR rule is one of those changes, and it is a good one: Coaches may not like the makeup of the APR rule, but the overriding mission -- graduate your players or make sure they leave the program in good academic standing -- is the kind of thing the NCAA should be doing. It just probably shouldn't do it so soon. A year from now? That seems a bit more reasonable.