After his team won the national championship, UConn point guard Shabazz Napier called out the NCAA on live TV.
“This is what happens when you ban us,” he said.
UConn was banned from last year’s NCAA Tournament because it failed to meet the minimum Academic Progress Rate (APR) benchmark in 2010-11. The APR is a simple NCAA metric that measures whether or not a team’s players are in good academic standing.
Your team score gets docked if a scholarship player, 1) leaves school while not in good academic standing at the end of a semester, or 2) isn’t academically eligible at the end of a semester.
A perfect score is 1000. A score of 925 is roughly equivalent to a 50% graduation rate. In the year that UConn got punished, the benchmark was 900, and UConn got a 889.
It’s designed to punish programs that consistently fail to graduate players or keep players academically eligible. APR scores cover a rolling four-year window — so last year’s UConn team was actually punished for the program’s academic performance between 2007 and 2011.
It’s really hard for a power school like UConn to fail to hit the APR benchmark. They are the only major Division I program to ever get a postseason APR ban.
Even Kentucky — which sends a huge chunk of its underclassmen to the NBA every year — hits the APR benchmark because its players are in good academic standing when they leave.
Your players don’t necessarily have to graduate to earn their APR points, they just have to pass their classes.
UConn also had fair warning — they were penalised with a scholarship reduction before the 2011-12 season.
So why are Napier and UConn so mad?
Because the players on last year’s team — many of whom came back and won it all this year — were penalised for something that had nothing to do with them.
This is the big conundrum of NCAA enforcement. It’s impossible to penalise a program without penalising the current players in the process, even if those players were in high school when the violation took place.
In this case, guys like Shabazz Napier were getting punished because UConn players were failing classes in the fall of 2007.
That clearly became a motivating force for him:
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