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UConn gets postseason suspension over grades

By Michael Marot

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, June 21 2012 12:37 a.m. MDT

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA's new academic requirements could give new meaning to the madness of March.

On Wednesday, three-time national champion Connecticut and nine other men's basketball teams were banned from the NCAA tournament because of poor Academic Progress Rate scores.

The penalties affect seven conferences, each of which must adapt to a new landscape for their league tournaments. Four conferences — the Big East, Big West, Ohio Valley, Southland and Southwest Athletic — said the banned teams cannot compete in their league tournaments.

"We'll have to adjust the bracket accordingly," Big East associate commissioner for men's basketball Dan Gavitt said Wednesday. "We would accommodate it in such a way that it would work. We would just have to eliminate a game and move someone up on the line."

Joining the Huskies on the sideline next March will be Arkansas-Pine Bluff, California-Riverside, Cal State Bakersfield, Jacksonville State, Mississippi Valley State, North Carolina-Wilmington, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Toledo and Towson.

Cal State Bakersfield, which became a full-fledged Division I member in 2010-11 and doesn't have a conference affiliation in basketball, could still be removed from the banned list because some of the school's data is still being reviewed.

Each of the record 10 schools fell below the mandated four-year cutline of 900 or the two-year cutline of 930 and will face additional sanctions. UConn, which had a four-year score of 889 and a two-year score of 902, must replace four hours of practice time with academic activities each week.

The APR measures the classroom performance of every Division I team.

This year's data calculates rates from 2007-08 through 2010-11.

Some schools, such as Arkansas' men's basketball team, avoided penalties on the four-year score (894) because it met the two-year requirement. One team, Jacksonville State, was punished for failing to meet the requirements it agreed to last year when it was given a waiver, the NCAA said on a conference call with reporters.

Naturally, UConn drew the most attention as the first BCS school to face a postseason ban based solely on sub-par academics. The Huskies have been an NCAA tourney regular since 1990, winning 48 postseason games and national titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.

Seeing the Huskies make the list of banned teams was no surprise, though.

UConn officials knew they wouldn't make the cutline last year and sought for a waiver from the ban this spring when it asked the NCAA to use the two most recent years of data. That argument was rejected. The Huskies now plan to make one more at a hearing later this summer in front of the committee on academic performance.

"I hope my colleagues come to the realization that if they change the rules and make this in effect that the NCAA has to change the way it review the data," Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel said. "That's the only fair thing to do."

It's unlikely the committee will give in now.

"I do not expect us to make any changes retrospectively," said committee chairman Walter Harrison, president at the University of Hartford. "If we make changes, and I'm not sure that we will, would be prospectively."

League officials will now have to adapt the new college basketball landscape.

For the second straight year, the SWAC will delay the first 10-team tournament in men's basketball history. They had two teams banned last year and will return to that traditional eight-team format again next year because Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State will be ineligible.

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