NCAA turns down UConn appeal of academic sanctions

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STORRS, CONN. (AP) - The NCAA has turned down what the University of Connecticut says is its final appeal for a waiver of academic requirements, a pass that would give the Huskies a chance to participate in next year’s postseason tournament.

UConn doesn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament because of below-standard academic results, but it requested a waiver earlier this year. The school argued it had instituted reforms that have led to improved scores.

On Thursday, UConn said its appeal failed, though the school is still hoping to become eligible for postseason 2013 through another route.

“While we as a University and coaching staff clearly should have done a better job academically with our men’s basketball student-athletes in the past, the changes we have implemented have already had a significant impact and have helped us achieve the success we expect in the classroom,” basketball coach Jim Calhoun said in a statement. “We will continue to strive to maintain that success as we move forward.”

In seeking the waiver, the school had proposed alternate penalties, including playing a shorter schedule next season, forfeiting the revenue awarded to the Big East for participating in the 2013 tournament and barring Calhoun from meeting off-campus with prospective recruits during the fall 2012 contact period.

NCAA staff rejected the appeal in February, and its Committee of Academic Performance followed suit, and a third appeal was rejected for a third time by the committee’s vice chairman this week.

Under rules approved in October, a school must have a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average of 900 on the NCAA’s annual Academic Progress Rate, which measures the academic performance of student athletes.

Connecticut’s men’s basketball scored 826 for the 2009-10 school year. UConn’s score for the 2010-11 school year was 978.

That would not be high enough. It would give Connecticut a two-year score of 902 and a four-year score of below 890.

Nonetheless, there is still a chance UConn could be part of March Madness in 2013.

Walter Harrison, the chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Academic Performance, has said that the body will consider in April or July whether to adjust reporting dates to allow schools to use their most recent data in qualifying for tournaments. For the 2013 men’s basketball tournament, that would mean scores from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic year.

UConn would qualify for the tournament under that scenario. During the fall 2011 semester, the team had a perfect APR score, Athletic Director Warde Manuel said Thursday.

“The approach to APR marks the first time in the history of the NCAA that it has ever implemented an academic rule significantly impacting current student-athletes without allowing the members time to adjust to the adoption of the legislation,” Manuel said Thursday.

Manuel would not discuss how the decision might impact Calhoun’s tenure at UConn. The coach has said he will announce a decision soon about whether he will return to coach a 27th season at the school.

Manuel said he would not discuss any conversations he has had with Calhoun about his future.

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