Sports Opinion: UConn’s appeal on ban is a joke

Jeff Daniels/Staff Writer

UConn’s appeal is a joke.
The University of Connecticut was recently banned from all postseason play after academically falling below the standards established by the NCAA this past October. These standards use a value called APR, or the Academic Progress Rate, which measures the success of collegiate athletic teams in moving student athletes towards graduation. Under the current rules, a school must have a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average of 900. UConn falls below both of these metrics, averaging 900.5 for the two-year and 888.5 for the four-year. It’s unfortunate, really, that students that are on the UConn basketball team right now must suffer for the sins of former students, but rules are rules. That’s not the issue here, though.

The issue here is the fact that UConn is trying to appeal the ban on their basketball program. Instead of being banned from postseason play, the punishments would go as follows: reduce the number of regular-season games from 27 to 23; forfeiting a Big East postseason revenue share: no head-coach recruiting off-campus in the fall of 2012; extra time in study hall; and a tour of inner-city schools to stress the importance of education. Sounds reasonable, right? Wrong. I find this situation analogous to what happened to Ohio State’s football program, who also was hit by sanctions set by the NCAA and then subsequently tried to appeal and set their own punishments. They got denied. And so should UConn.

Just because you are a so-called “Power Conference” school doesn’t mean that you are above the rules established by the almighty NCAA. The rules are the rules. Abide by them. Take the penalty. These schools are accustomed to getting their way from time to time in all kinds of matters when facing sanctions. The men’s basketball programs are Southern and Grambling and the football programs at Jackson State and Southern all fell below the NCAA’s APR and have been banned from postseason play because of it. You don’t see them trying to appeal and woo the NCAA.

Though there is some big conference bias in sports, that isn’t the underlying problem. The biggest problem with college athletics is not programs buying players or making deals with agents or family members.

Those are major issues, yes, but they aren’t the worst thing. The worst thing is academic malfeasance. These athletes are learning nothing away from the court, which in turn corrupts the academic mission of the schools—the very reason for their existence. Making a mockery of education while pursuing athletic fame and fortune should have its consequences. There should be no bargaining to avoid penalties such as these, no switching rules when the results aren’t going your way. Most children learn this growing up. Hopefully UConn will learn it now.

Class of 2014

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