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Sports

May 14, 2014

Grades cost OSU practice time in 2014 but not bowl

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State University’s football team narrowly avoided a postseason bowl ban in the 2014 season, but will lose practice time each week because of poor academic performance, the NCAA announced Wednesday.

The NCAA deemed 36 Division I teams in all sports ineligible for postseason play for failing to meet multiyear Academic Progress Rate standards. Thirteen Division I teams failed to meet APR rates in 2013.

It’s the first year for tougher standards, and the jump from 13 to 36 was expected because the four-year score was raised to 930 and the two-year standard upped to 940.

Nine football teams, including Idaho and UNLV, are banned from postseason play and eight men’s basketball teams will not be eligible to compete in the NCAA tournament in the 2014-2015 season.

OSU’s football team will lose two hours of practice time each week during the season. The NCAA allows teams to practice 20 hours a week during the season, and normally reduces practice time by four hours weekly for failing to meet APR standards.

The NCAA reduced OSU’s penalty two hours because the Cowboy football team has shown academic improvement in the past two seasons, said Kevin Fite, OSU senior associate athletic director for compliance.

The OSU football team recorded APR scores of 916 in 2009-10, 915 in 2010-11; 953 in 2011-12 and 934 in 2012-13.

The football team posted an average score of 929.41 over the past four years and a 943.54 in the past two years. Teams must earn a 940 two-year average or a 930 four-year average to participate in the postseason.

The football team’s two-year average kept it eligible for postseason play, but its four-year average forced the NCAA to restrict practice time.

“We have shown significant improvement over the last two years,” Fite said, “and we were able to demonstrate that we’ve taken strategies to address the areas where we were losing points,” he said.

Mike Holder, OSU athletic director, said the athletic department is taking steps to ensure the football team’s Academic Progress Rates continue to improve.

“We are accountable for what we do and ultimately, we are here to serve our student-athletes and do our best to keep them on track to be lifelong contributors to society,” Holder said.

The university’s other eight men’s sports and eight women’s sports easily exceed the 930 and 940 APR standards.

The NCAA created the APR system a decade ago to make sure student-athletes were prepared for a future after college, Committee on Academic Performance chairman Walter Harrison said.

“Every time these numbers rise, it means something to me. It’s more than just a higher number,” he said. “It’s real people achieve their degrees, which helps them be more successful in life.”

OSU continues to wait for a report from a former NCAA enforcement director for the NCAA, Charles E. Smrt, concerning allegations raised in a five-part Sports Illustrated investigation into the Cowboy football team during its rise to prominence from 2001 to 2011 under former coach Les Miles and assistant coach Mike Gundy. Gundy took control of the program when Miles left OSU for LSU in 2005. OSU had hired Smrt to investigate the SI allegations in September.

The Sports Illustrated series focused on payments to players, drug use, drug dealing, grade falsification, using sex to entice recruits to sign letters of intent and the number of football players who left school before completing their eligibility.

Chris Day is managing editor of the Stillwater News Press.

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