Flunking the Final Four

NCAA President Myles Brand is defending the academic standing of his tournament's Final Four teams. All four schools Florida, LSU, UCLA – even Cinderella George Mason University – all had unsatisfactory “academic progress rates” (APR). (Think of the APR as the NCAA’s version of NCLB’s AYP…how’s that for education acronym-speak?).

An APR score of 925 equates to about a 60% graduation rate. 925 is the NCAA cut score for satisfactory progress. The APR for the Final Four schools are: George Mason – 918, Florida – 903, UCLA – 915, and LSU – 860.

Teams that continually fail to meet the 925 threshold are supposed to face sanctions, including the loss of scholarship, though none of the Final Four teams have been penalized yet. (Hard to believe a the NCAA considers a 60% graduation rate acceptable. A 60% shooter I can understand, but leaving 40% of your players without a college degree after four years?).

They might have fallen just short of the Final Four, but there is one team whose players are all winners in the academic arena. Villanova was the only school of the Sweet 16 teams with a perfect graduation rate – 1000. Well done, Coach Jay Wright and seniors Randy Foye (Big East player of the Year), Allan Ray, and Jason Fraser.

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