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Published: Saturday, 5/9/2009

Falcons already pay for academic indiscretions

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Christopher Christopher
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BOWLING GREEN In explaining the dismissal of Gregg Brandon as football coach last fall, Bowling Green State University athletic director Greg Christopher cited the team s poor academic standing among the accumulation of things that went into his decision.

The details of that contention finally came to light this week when the NCAA released Academic Progress Rates (APRs) for all Division I institutions.

The BGSU football team scored a 920 five points below the NCAA s cut line for an acceptable score which meant the loss of eight scholarships for the program.

However, the school s administration announced Wednesday that it has been aware of the forthcoming scholarship reductions since May, 2008, and opted to serve the penalty during the 2008 season.

Therefore, the Falcons will not be required to reduce scholarships for 2009.

I see the penalties as a one-time occurrence, Christopher said in a statement. We saw this coming, so we served the penalty by reducing scholarships a year ago. The football program has never fallen below the APR cutline before, and our score is more a reflection of attrition from the program than on poor academic performance.

The APR measures player retention, eligibility and progress toward graduation over a four-year span in every sport at all NCAA institutions.

The average APR score across Division I football was 939.

The APR score is based on a four-year average, and it just happened that we had a high score drop off this year and it was replaced with a year in which we lost some student-athletes, Christopher said. We expect to see improvement next year.

No other sports at BGSU were penalized for low APR scores.

The Falcons women s tennis team scored a perfect 1000 and was given a public recognition award by the NCAA for the third consecutive year.

Overall, we are very pleased with our APR scores, Christopher said. Our scores are higher than other institutions that we view as our peers. Our academic services department, led by Mark Shook, is doing a fantastic job giving our student-athletes an opportunity to succeed in the classroom.

Last year, the men s soccer team scored an 895 and was limited to awarding 9.06 scholarships. This year, its score jumped to 934.

Our athletic department GPA of 3.02 is higher than the general student body GPA at Bowling Green, and our NCAA graduation success rate is the highest in the MAC, Christopher said. Our student-athletes should be commended for the way they balance their academic and athletic commitments.

The NCAA issued its first postseason bans for low APR scores Wednesday, with Centenary men s basketball and Chattanooga and Jacksonville State football facing sanctions for three straight years of poor academic performance.

Next year, institutions could face restricted Division I membership for the entire athletics department if a team has four consecutive years of poor academic performance

Our objective is to change behavior, NCAA president Myles Brand said in a statement. Our objective is not to punish and sanction. When we work with the teams and we see improvement, and we see a real commitment to the academic success of the student-athletes, then you are more likely to see a waiver situation.

Contact Zach Silka at:zsilka@theblade.com.



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