“Basketball Loses 2 Scholarships”

Published May 7th, 2009 for The Lantern.

After losing players to the NBA, two scholarships will also be taken from the Ohio State men’s basketball team next season. On Wednesday, the NCAA announced their decision to penalize the Buckeyes for deficient academic progress.

The NCAA measures its teams’ academics through the Academic Progress Rate, assigning scores to schools based on athlete graduation rates.

“It’s an unfortunate collision between some of the details of APR,” said John Bruno, a faculty Athletics representative at OSU. “There are complex reasons for these loses that are not reflected in the demise of an athletic program.”

Bruno said the NCAA requires student-athletes to maintain six hours of study and to finish their terms in order to play. Calculating the APR, though, took into account all players on the varsity team’s roster from Fall Quarter 2004 to Spring Quarter 2008, tracking their graduation rate. As a result, players who enrolled at OSU for Spring Quarter but left before it ended lowered the team’s APR.

B.J. Mullens, freshman center, will enter the 2009 NBA draft, according to an OSU Department of Athletics’ press release from March 12. Mullens, though, had not enrolled in the Spring Quarter. Greg Oden and Kosta Koufos were among those that left prematurely.

“The NBA loves their big men,” Bruno said. “They throw a ton of money at them and it is hard for an 18- or 19-year-old guy to make a decision. You really can’t try out for that exploration process of the NBA and make it through the Spring Quarter.”

Unlike the NFL, the NBA allows freshmen to enroll in the draft.

“We wanted to get the shackles of potential penalties off of them. There were no guarantees that the NCAA would grant a continued appeal the next time around,” Bruno said. “We did not want to leave that uncertainty over the team’s head.”

The NCAA did approve an academic improvement plan for OSU, and the scholarships are expected to be returned the following season.

The APR was designed to measure academic progress at semester schools, Bruno said, and doesn’t translate perfectly into a quarter system.

“APR is determined for semester schools and their formula counts spring twice; our Spring Quarter is weighed more heavily than our winter or fall. It’s a double whammy,” he said.

No player will lose a scholarship next season, Bruno said, because there were already two scholarships that had not been filled.

“This is academically a very healthy program,” he said. “They came off of three solid academic years, improving their team GPA from 2.4 to 2.85. It shouldn’t be viewed as an academic indictment of this program.”

The team needed an APR of 925 and was 14 points short, which led to the penalty. The number is the total points a team earns divided by the total possible. The decision not to appeal was not easy, Bruno said.

“I don’t think any other program has had five players go in three years,” he said. “But each of them were in good academic standing.”