When the powers-that-be who are reshaping football’s postseason decided to set aside some of the football postseason money for academic performance, it was widely hailed as at least a good start. More details are starting to come out, and the total amount of money, a little over $37 million is a small percentage of the total payout but also a sizable chunk of change. What’s laughable about the academic payout is the standard:
The payout will be made to universities that score 930 or higher on the Academic Progress Report, Bill Hancock, the executive director of the group overseeing the playoffs, said at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York. “You have to meet the NCAA APR standard,” Hancock said in an interview yesterday. “Otherwise your school doesn’t get it.”
So to receive an academic bonus of $300,000, a school simply needs to maintain the same APR necessary to be eligible for the championship in the first place. Failing to maintain a 930 APR and rendering the team ineligible for the postseason should mean the school loses all postseason revenue distribution. Only eight FBS schools would have failed to qualify, plus Old Dominion which is in the process of reclassifying.
As it stands, the academic payout reinforces the idea that baseline academic performance of athletes is optional, a nice extra. A better APR benchmark to receive additional revenue would be 965. That represents roughly a 75% Graduation Success Rate, according to the Big East in its (defeated) proposal for a team exception to the new football nine-hour rule. Using that number, 35 schools would have met the standard last year, and if the pot remained the same, they could have received over $1 million each.