|The Huskies' 2012-13 campaign will end with its final regular season game in early March. (AP)|
The biggest impact of the NCAA's relatively new Academic Progress Rate (APR) rule has hit one of the most influential programs in college basketball. After many appeals and multiple months of stalling, the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance (CAP), for the final time, denied UConn's request to not be banned from the postseason for one year.
The verdict means UConn is ineligible not only for the 2013 Big East tournament, but also the NCAA tournament. Yes, really. This action isn't unprecedented -- the NCAA brought the hammer on SWAC schools last year -- but it has never been implemented on a program as powerful as Connecticut's until now.
In basic terms, UConn's APR did not meet the criteria required by the NCAA from 2007 to 2011. Too many players transferred out of or failed to graduate from UConn. There has been debate over some of the protocol at play. UConn thinks it was unfairly punished here, while others will see this is as karma for the school basically getting slapped on the wrist by the NCAA after a former UConn student manager-turned agent Josh Nochimson was found to be dealing with the illegal recruitment of Nate Miles. Calhoun served the a three-game Big East suspension during the 2011-12 season for "failure to foster an atmosphere of compliance."
If the the CAP decides to use APR data from 2011-12, UConn could have its aggregate APR score lifted above the floor requirement of 925. But this decision isn't likely to be reversed.
“While we as a University and coaching staff clearly should have done a better job academically with our men's basketball student-athletes in the past, the changes we have implemented have already had a significant impact and have helped us achieve the success we expect in the classroom,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said in a statement. "We will continue to strive to maintain that success as we move forward.”
New athletic director Warde Manuel wasted no time in being direct in his response to this which, again, he had nothing to do with, as he was hired earlier in 2012. Warde is actually a former member of the NCAA's Academic Cabinet and Academic Eligibility and Compliance Committee; it's a big reason why the school hired him to begin with.
“I want to be clear that everyone at UConn is and will always be committed to academic excellence for all of our student-athletes and in particular our men's basketball players,” Warde said in a statement. "Before we even began this appeal process, the university and its Division of Athletics began to implement changes that were designed to positively impact the academic performance of our men's basketball student-athletes. We have and will continue to make adjustments designed to help these young men succeed."For UConn, Calhoun and its incoming recruiting prospects, the future is now a soupy fog. Senior forward Alex Oriakhi is already transferring, and this ineligibility for the postseason means that he and any other player can go to another school without having to sit out a year. It also means players like Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb are likely to bypass any more college experience and put their names into the 2012 NBA draft.
Then you've got Calhoun's future. He'll be 70 in May. Will he want to coach another season that won't amount to anything? How does this impact UConn's recruiting going forward, and what about Calhoun's replacement? This decision changes a lot of what UConn is and will be for the next two to four years.