- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2011

Maryland football coach Randy Edsall plans to have the Terrapins ready to absorb a three-scholarship penalty from the NCAA once August practice begins.

He also intends for it to be the last time Maryland finds itself in such a predicament.

Edsall said Monday he had started implementing changes to the Terps’ approach to academics before the school acknowledged Saturday its Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of 922 will prompt sanctions for the 2011 season.

The NCAA allows major-college programs a maximum of 85 scholarships but can also penalize schools if they do not meet the APR cut score of 925. This is the first time Maryland’s football program faces scholarship losses for APR-related reasons.

“We’ll be compliant with the 82 for August and the thing is we have to play the cards that we were dealt,” Edsall said. “This is the hand we were dealt. A lot of people were unaware of it, but we’ll deal with it. I’m not going to focus on the past. I’m going to focus on the now and the future.”

The score, which will be part of the NCAA’s annual APR report later in the spring, continued a downward trend for Maryland football. The program’s APR score peaked at 947 in the data released in 2006, followed by scores of 944, 943, 931 and 929.

The APR is designed as a real-time snapshot of academic progress in a program. It is a rolling four-year score; this spring’s data will add the 2009-10 school year while cycling out 2005-06.

That makes it difficult to immediately change APR scores, since a less-desirable performance lingers beyond a single APR report.

“I’m a guy who thinks we can get it done right away, and that’s what we’ll shoot for,” Edsall said. “That’s my timetable to get this thing fixed, and hopefully we’ll get most of it fixed by the end of the semester. We have to get this plan in place and the young men attuned to it, and they’re doing that.”

Edsall said he has regular Monday meetings with three members of Maryland’s academic support unit to review the progress of every member of the program. He also intends to meet with players individually to discuss their academic situations.

Athletic director Kevin Anderson, who came to Maryland in September, hired Chris Uchacz to be the Terps’ associate athletic director for academic support and career development within months of taking over. Maryland also recently hired Michael Harris as an assistant athletic director in that department.

Harris’ duties include overseeing academic support in the football program while also working as an adviser along with Jaison Freeman.

Edsall also said he plans to shift Maryland’s day off during the season to Monday to permit players to schedule lab classes as well as visit professors during office hours. Ralph Friedgen, Edsall’s predecessor, gave players off Sunday and held Monday evening practice sessions.

“I feel good about the program we’re putting into place to allow our young men to be successful in the classroom,” Edsall said. “They understand they’re going to be held accountable.”

Notes: Tailbacks Gary Douglas and Jeremiah Wilson are both out with hamstring injuries after the first week of spring practice. Walk-on defensive backs Desmond Haynes and Kwabena Ofori were moved to running back to provide depth at the position. … Wide receiver Nigel King, who enrolled a semester early, has not practiced because the NCAA Clearinghouse has not yet cleared him.