Remember when one of the reasons Maryland gave for letting go of Ralph Friedgen was that it had to do something to help boost ticket sales? Well, it turns out that attendance wasn't the only thing sagging during Friedgen's final years. Thanks to some bad grades in the classroom from players the last few seasons, in particular Maryland's 2-10 team of 2009, the Terps could soon find themselves without three scholarships.
While the NCAA is yet to release the latest Academic Progress Rate scores, what was apparently one bad semester in 2009 could have dragged Maryland's score below the 925 point (out of 1,000) threshold. Still, the school is optimistic that recent changes made to the program could prompt the NCAA to let it keep its available scholarships.
Athletic department officials agreed to be interviewed Thursday and confirmed that Maryland learned in January that scholarships were at risk and sought a waiver. The NCAA declined the initial waiver request but has reopened the process. Key to Maryland's argument is that academic improvements have been made since 2009 and that the school has a new president, new athletic director, new football coach and new academic support director for the program.
"We've been proactive," Dan Trump, associate AD for compliance, said in an interview. "We do recognize there was a downward trend, and we did put processes in place. If you really look at it, there is one single year where we really plummeted. That fall of '09, we struggled on the field and off the field. You take out that one semester, and we're not having this conversation."If Maryland were to lose the scholarships, it would be the first time that the school was docked scholarships in any sport since the NCAA began keeping track of APR scores in the 2003-04 school year.
It's also important to note that the fact that Maryland's scores have dipped every year from 2005 through 2010 may outweigh the changes the school has made in the eyes of the NCAA. Though, if it's any consolation to Maryland fans, the school doesn't have the lowest APR score in the ACC. No, that distinction belongs to Florida State.