- Associated Press - Thursday, October 27, 2011

STORRS CONN. (AP) - Changes in NCAA rules have left in question whether defending national champion Connecticut might be barred from participating in the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Under the new rules adopted Thursday by the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors a school cannot participate in the 2013 tournament unless it has a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average score of 900 on the NCAA’s annual Academic Progress Rate, which measures the academic performance of student athletes.

Connecticut’s men’s basketball score for the 2009-10 school year was 826. A UConn official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the number isn’t official until next May, said the score for the 2010-11 school year would be approximately 975.

That would not be high enough. It would give Connecticut a two-year score of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5.

UConn was asking for clarification Thursday as to whether those would be the numbers used to determine 2013 eligibility.

It is possible the NCAA could use the 975 figure from the 2010-11 school year and whatever UConn basketball players achieve in the 2011-12 school year. But those numbers are not expected to be released until May, 2013, after the tournament had concluded.

On Wednesday, UConn President Susan Herbst said she was confident that the new rule would not be implemented until schools such as Connecticut have a chance to show they have made improvements.

“We just need time to prepare, and I think that’s true for a lot of institutions,” she said. “We need to get the supports in place so they can meet any new standard. I have no doubt that we’ll have that chance.”

In a conference call Thursday, Walter Harrison, the president of the University of Hartford and chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Academic Performance seemed to indicate that was the intent.

“You can’t change what has passed,” he said. “This will get teams to improve performance and give them time to do it.”

A message seeking clarification was left Thursday afternoon with the NCAA.