Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just Another Busy Day on the UConn Beat

By now you've probably heard that UConn has applied for a waiver to be eligible for the 2013 NCAA tournament. Here's the AP story, which details the school's numerous suggested self-imposed sanctions, including cutting next year's schedule from 27 to 23 games and keeping Jim Calhoun from meeting prospective recruits during the 2012 fall recruiting season.

Not sure if the NCAA will buy this, but it's certainly possible. It is also likely UConn's last recourse to be eligible for next year's Big Dance (this year's, of course, is an entirely different story).

The school is hoping the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance changes its APR-reporting calendar. Currently, scores from the 2009-10 (an 826) and 2010-11 (about a 975) are used to determine the two-year rolling average. Susan Herbst (and many others) would like more recent scores (2010-11 and 2011-12) to be used, figuring that current players shouldn't be punished for past players' academic failings.

But according to committee chairman Walter Harrison, “There are lots of reasons why that’s going to be incredibly difficult.”

At issue: the fact that, while semester-system schools like UConn are able to report their APR scores in early September, there are many schools – particularly on the West Coast – that are on a four-quarter system, don't begin their school year until late-September/early-October, and would need more time to report their scores.

That could leave a very short window for such schools to report their APR scores, have the NCAA check them, and still have time to apply for a waiver if necessary – all in time to announce penalties well-ahead of March Madness.

Such a system would also treat fall sports differently than winter sports. Obviously, fall sports like football and soccer would still have to use, for instance, scores from '09-10 and '10-11 to determine postseason eligibility for 2012.

“The question of how we do all that is what we’re trying to figure out,” said Harrison. “The big issues are: can we do it fast enough, and is it fair to treat winter and spring sports different than fall and announce them differently.”

Harrison’s committee discussed the issue “for about a half-hour, 45 minutes” at its last meeting a few weeks ago and will discuss it further on Feb. 20. It’s possible no decision will still be reached by then, and it would be broached again at an April meeting.

Unless the committee decides to change its APR calendar, penalties will be announced some time in May.

*** Meanwhile, Jim Calhoun will miss Saturday's game at Syracuse (as expected) as he continues to battle spinal stenosis. Calhoun is scheduled to meet with specialists over the next few days to determine the best course of treatment.

“I’m feeling better, but as of now, I wouldn’t be able to coach,” Calhoun said Tuesday. “I’m trying to get the best assessment in order to find the best solution.”

*** Oh, and there's this: Jerome Dyson has been named a D-League All-Star. He'll represent the West Team at the game on Feb. 25 at NBA All-Star Jam Session in Orlando. The game will air live on NBA TV at 2 p.m.

Here are the teams:

West Team: Justin Dentmon and Lance Thomas (Austin Toros), currently a member of the New Orleans Hornets; Brandon Costner, Gerald Green, and Elijah Millsap (Los Angeles D-Fenders); Blake Ahearn and Andre Emmett (Reno Bighorns); Greg Smith (Rio Grande Valley Vipers); and Jerome Dyson and Marcus Lewis (Tulsa 66ers).

East Team: Tyrell Biggs (Canton Charge); Edwin Ubiles (Dakota Wizards); Keith McLeod (Erie BayHawks); Darnell Lazare and Walker Russell, Jr. (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), currently a member of the Detroit Pistons; Marqus Blakely (Iowa Energy); Charles Garcia (Sioux Falls Skyforce); and JamesOn Curry, Jeff Foote, and Jerry Smith (Springfield Armor).

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