Monday, June 1, 2009

Georgia Tech and the Impact of the APR

Has anyone heard anything more about Tech's APR penalty? Do they have a real chance of getting out of the sanction by saying that they served the penalty last year?

As background, Georgia Tech failed to meet the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) requirements for its men's basketball program. The result is that Tech will lose two scholarships.

Georgia Tech has responded by saying that they learned last June that they were likely not to meet the APR, so they played last season with only 11 scholarship players. Having served their penalty last year, they reason, Tech has stated publicly that they expect to have use of all 13 scholarships for 2009/2010.

Can an institution predetermine when they will serve NCAA penalties? If I get pulled over for a DUI and am threatened with losing my license for six months, can I say to the court that I, in anticipation of the court's sanction, stopped driving for the six months before the trial began?

A few years ago, Georgia was facing NCAA penalties in the Harrick situation. After a long process of review, the NCAA lessened some of its penalties because Georgia took public and painful steps to sanction its own program. In the meantime, while the NCAA was doing its investigation, Georgia let all of their incoming recruits out of their commitments. Until the NCAA made its determination about the penalties, Georgia complied with the law and the spirit of the NCAA's penalty provisions, without assuming any favorable action by the NCAA.

That's not what happened here with Tech. If I remember correctly, Tech recruited Travis Leslie, Ebuka Anyaorah and Howard Thompkins, and kept recruiting until very late in the year. They didn't get a number of the guys that they were trying to bring in.

Since they had a relatively poor recruiting year (and, if I'm not mistaken, one player got hurt and did not count against their scholarship allotment), can they say after the fact that "we gave last year?" I don't think they mentioned anything about serving the penalty at that time. Did they alert the NCAA that they were serving their likely APR sanction in advance?

An orderly compliance process for the NCAA requires that the penalty be served for the coming year. Unless there is an express provision of the APR rule that allows a school to take action like Georgia Tech did, they should not be allowed to presume that the penalty applies in the past.

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