Frank Stranzl

I couldn’t wait to write this column after Cal Poly’s basketball triumphs over UC Santa Barbara. I mean, let’s face it, we’re obviously superior this year, right?

It was difficult containing my Cal Poly patronage while sitting on press row at the men’s basketball game on Saturday. I attended the game as a Mustang Daily reporter, but as a Cal Poly student, I delighted in hearing the result of the women’s basketball game. And each time Dawin Whiten dazzled the crowd with an acrobatic lay-up or three-point shot, I wanted to jump up and cheer with the rest of Cal Poly’s fans.

A win feels good; a win at home is even better; a weekend sweep of the Gauchos, now that’s priceless.

As heartening as the win was, I knew what was coming this week: the article about the men’s basketball team losing two scholarships.

Truth is, Cal Poly certainly won’t be the only institution hit with NCAA sanctions. However, it was a shocker to discover our school, with all its academic reputation, would have one, let alone several teams under the standard Academic Progress Rate score.

“Coaches nationally have always talked academics, and the APR is causing them on a day-to-day basis to act academic and there’s a difference,” Cal Poly’s Athletic Director Alison Cone said.

The results, of course, don’t mean Cal Poly athletics is failing academically. The men’s basketball team’s scholarship loss is the direct consequence of several athletes leaving at an inopportune time ” during the two years the APR began to collect data (2003-04 and 2004-05).

In fact, coach Kevin Bromley said his team is doing very well academically as a whole. The men’s basketball team’s GPA for the fall quarter was 2.74, he said.

The APR is a real-time measure of projected graduation rates, not GPAs.

What you’re going to see in February when the official APR two-year numbers are announced is a host of teams receiving sanctions, teams you wouldn’t expect. Why? Because the APR is new and it’s unrefined.

To echo the thoughts of Cone and Bromley, the APR is a more accurate gage of a school’s graduation rate than the previous system and the concept is encouraging, but there are still problems to address.

The most significant flaw with the current state of the APR has to do with transfers.

“There’s always different circumstances for why young men don’t graduate,” Bromley said in an interview last week. “They want to transfer closer to home to be closer to mom and dad, or they want to change majors and they can’t; there’s a lot of factors that are involved.”

At the beginning of the season I asked Bromley about the departure of his freshman guard, Lew Finnegan. Bromley said that Finnegan was homesick and needed to be closer to his family in Massachusetts, a perfectly respectable situation. There was no chance Finnegan was coming back to Cal Poly for his sophomore season, so why should that count against the team in the APR?

And what about the student-athlete who is recruited under one coach, but midway through the player’s tenure, the coach is fired or takes a new coaching job? Should that athlete count against a school if they decide to transfer?

These are situations that should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

While I don’t believe anybody should receive a free pass on the first APR results, hopefully the system will continue to redefine itself until it truly is an accurate grading scale for a school’s ability to graduate student-athletes.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.