SBD/March 18, 2011/Colleges

U.S. Education Secretary Wants To Punish Teams For Bad Grad Rates

Duncan endorses plan for teams to be on track to graduate at least half of players
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Thursday backed a proposal that would have made 10 of the 68 teams in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament “ineligible to play" in the tournament, according to Brent Schrotenboer of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Duncan endorsed a recommendation by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics that would “require teams to be on track to graduate at least half of their players,” and if not, they "would not be eligible for postseason play.” Duncan: "If the NCAA took a strong stand on this, I promise you, I guarantee, very very rapidly you would see these wayward programs, these renegade programs, get in line.” He added the “vast majority is doing this right," but it is “incomprehensible ... why we allow that bad behavior to continue.” Duncan also endorsed a recommendation by the Knight Commission to “change the NCAA’s revenue distribution system by providing financial rewards to teams that meet minimal academic standards.” The Knight Commission said that of the $409M earned by NCAA Tournament teams in the past five tournaments, nearly $179M was “earned by teams not on track to graduate at least 50 percent of their players” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/18).

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and the NCAA held a news conference in DC to "unveil a public campaign urging fans attending tournament games to be vigilant about possible terrorist threats." A PSA involving Napolitano and NCAA President Mark Emmert “will be played at any NCAA winter sports championship event.” The effort is titled,“If You See Something, Say Something" (USA TODAY, 3/18).
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