Friday, May 7, 2010

Calhoun, Hathaway on APR (with Video)

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Jim Calhoun's new contract is the provision that the coach would lose performance-based incentives and also donate $100,000 to the UConn Foundation General Scholarship Fund if the program fails to meet NCAA Academic Progress Report (APR) standards.

Currently, men's basketball teams must meet an APR score of 925 out of 1,000 over both the last-reported four-year rolling average and the most recently completed academic year. Failure to do so would result in loss of a scholarship (and, in Calhoun's case, loss of money).

UConn hasn't fallen short of APR standards since they were instituted six years ago, but it's a struggle -- particularly because the program has had so many players leave school early to turn pro.

Here's what Hathaway and Calhoun had to say about the provision, and about keeping up to APR standards.

"All that underscores is the fact that we're committed to academics, it's the primary mission of the university and of the athletic department. We've paid a lot of attention to APR in the six years it's been in place. It's a point of emphasis for all of us."

(is such language common in other coach's contracts?)

"There's a lot of APR provisions in contracts across the country. A lot of people do it as incentives. We don't do it as incentives. We believe all our coaches understand the importance of academics, and we believe that they're going to deliver on the academics. We've never provided incentives for academic achievement."

"I had no problem having it in my contract. I just think it's a statement. When people say I want to serve my community, I try to serve my community. Now, I'm saying I'm very ... It doesn't mean any more or less to me now. It's tangible evidence."

He noted that if a player signs a pro contract, his academic obligations are lessened under APR guidlines.

"(APR) was something that I've been a spokesperson about. The fact you were penalizing us for kids going out and making $2, 3 million per year. It's one of the few places in our society where you're penalizing kids for not finishing up the final three, four courses, when they can more than afford to come back and get their degree."

Calhoun pointed out that Scott Burrell will be graduating on Sunday, as will Jerome Dyson. Gavin Edwards is two courses away, the coach said, and Stanley Robinson is due to come back this summer and finish things up.

"We've had more kids go early, Calhoun continued. "You can understand the ramifications of that. We've never lost a scholarship because of that, but we've had to do an awful lot of work because many of these kids leave, teams have to try them out. It's been very difficult to manage.

"It's not me. It's me, Jeff, everybody that's involved here at UConn, trying to make sure this works and that (players) are making normal progress towards a degree ... and eventually these kids graduate."

Calhoun also noted that Kemba Walker will be staying on campus all summer to work on both basketball and his academics so that he can graduate in three years.

"It's a Herculean task, but if anybody can it's Kemba, because of his work ethic."

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