INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA will decide in January what standard will trigger penalties for poor academic performance.
Schools which fail to meet that standard in a particular sport could lose a scholarship for one year, under a reform package approved by the NCAA last spring.
Colleges will be given yearly assessments "so they know how they're doing," Walter Harrison, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance, said Thursday. "We're almost finished collecting data ... and now beginning to think about where would we draw the line."
The goal of the committee is to encourage schools to take corrective action before penalties are applied, NCAA President Myles Brand said after the Division I board of directors heard a report from Harrison's committee.
The committee is expected to make its recommendations at a January board meeting.
"We're trying to set some cut-lines for what we call contemporaneous penalties," said Harrison, the president of the University of Hartford. "We're hoping to improve academic performance and change behaviors so there aren't more serious penalties down the road."
The data being studied by the committee include an academic-progress rate for each Division I team, based on its athletes' eligibility and progress toward graduation. Also, a new graduation-success rate will take into account athletes who transfer in good academic standing, a factor that was not considered in previous studies of graduation rates.
The contemporaneous penalties will begin in 2005-06 and will result in the loss of a scholarship for teams that fail to meet the standard. Harsher penalties will be assessed for repeated academic failure over a period time.
These penalties, to begin in 2007-08, may include scholarship reductions, recruiting limitations and ineligibility for NCAA preseason or postseason competition, including bowl games and NCAA championships. The most extreme cases could result in restricted NCAA membership.
Also on Thursday, the board ordered a review of Division I-A membership standards, including a requirement for average attendance of 15,000 for home football games. The board also recommended televising all rounds of the Division I-AA football playoffs, a change in the Division I-AA championship seeding and a change in the date of the Division I-AA championship so it can be played in prime time on the third Friday in December.