For first-year football coach Al Golden, the report on his team’s academic performance is in. And it doesn’t look good.
According to the NCAA’s second-year Academic Progress Rates report released on Wednesday, the football team is in academic violation and will lose nine scholarships due to unsatisfactory scholastic scores per NCAA standards – and not those of the university.
Golden’s team will lose more scholarships than any other Division I football program.
NCAA penalties are handed down when a team turns in an APR score lower than 925 points out of a possible 1,000-point score. The newest APR report lists that the football team earned a score of 837.
Measurement of the APR is based on two factors: a team’s graduation rate and its rate of student-athlete retention. Currently the NCAA reports that a 60 percent graduation rate is needed to attain the suitable APR score of 925.
According to the report, the football team’s academic score ranked among Temple’s lowest in the athletic program, in addition to the nation’s lowest in football. The report states that only Temple’s women’s lacrosse team placed in the top 50 percentile both at Temple and in the nation in its sport.
Golden’s squad is among the 99 D-I teams at 65 universities and colleges that have been penalized. At this time last year, nearly 350 teams were in violation of the APR code and were at risk of losing scholarships, according to ESPN reports.
While the NCAA has noted some positive achievement between the APR’s first-year and second-year reports, NCAA President Miles Brand said in a teleconference held Wednesday that he is not yet satisfied.
“There is more work to be done. Our goal is not to sanction teams and schools, but rather to change behavior,” Brand said in a teleconference on NCAA.com. “We are starting to see some positive changes in behavior toward academic achievement and student-athletes.”
Temple Athletic Compliance Director Sherryta Freeman was out of the office late Wednesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.
Since Golden has been affiliated with the football team for only the last seven weeks, he sidestepped much blame for his student-athletes’ academic scores Wednesday in an interview with ESPN.
“I’ve been dealing with the problem,” Golden said. “I try to demolish the bridges behind me by moving forward and not looking back. I wasn’t here, so my regime didn’t affect the scores. But now, we have a chance to positively affect those scores.”
Golden told ESPN that he and his coaching staff “personally make sure [the players] hand in their papers.” He added that his players are obligated to sit in the front row of their classes and to develop a personal relationship with each of their professors to make sure their academic scores are improved.
The NCAA has cautioned that future penalties will be a less sympathetic and that it will send warning letters next year to universities with teams that have traditionally underperformed academically.
If a school continually fails to comply with NCAA standards, a university risks losing scholarships, the ESPN report said. Additionally, ESPN reported that the NCAA could hand down penalties in 2008-09 that might include a team ban from postseason play.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.