The headlines make us want to cry while Jim Boeheim tries to calm us down with whispers and his soothing voice. So what's the real story? Should we be frightened or can I go back to sleep under my desk?
Let's just get the bad news out of the way first:
The NCAA is penalizing the Syracuse men’s basketball team after it failed to meet academic standards. Syracuse and Colorado are the only BCS schools in football or men’s and women’s basketball being sanctioned for falling short of the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate cutline of 925.
The penalty is supposedly two scholarships.
Now, before you start freaking out, Jim Boeheim, and possibly the facts, lead me to believe that this is not so bad. First, what is this APR thing? According to the USA Today:
The NCAA annually calculates an APR for every team at every Division I school, using data collected over a rolling four-year period. Teams can receive two points per student-athlete, one for retaining the athlete in school and another if the athlete makes successful progress toward a degree that year. A team's APR can drop if a player leaves school while in poor academic standing.
That last sentence may be important
925 is the point threshold for penalties and Syracuse's 4-year average is 912. For those Syracuse basketball players reading this article, 912 is less than 925, so the team gets penalties (Cuse bball players, I kid because I love).
"OH MY GOD!! PENALTIES!!! TWO SCHOLARSHIPS!!! THIS IS THE END! STUPID JIM BOEHEIM AND HIS STUPID GAS BAG FACE!!! Hi, Juli."
Wait, take a breath. It's really not that bad. Syracuse's average is low because in 2008-09, three scholarship athletes left the team (Flynn, Devendorf and Harris). And if they happen to stop going to classes before officially leaving, the team would have three players "leave school while in poor academic standing." Who knows?
The really good news is that, minus some egg on our face, this likely won't cause any issues down the road:
"We have always been above the APR standard since it was implemented. We had three students leave school early to pursue professional basketball careers last spring and that is difficult to overcome," said head coach Jim Boeheim. "In anticipation of this, we took the scholarship penalty during the 2009-10 school year. We anticipate being back above the APR standard when the next report is compiled."
Which would explain why the roster from this season only has 10 scholarship athletes. Jimmy, baby, why do you keep these things from us? Do you not have access to a phone to call and warn us all that some scary headlines will be making their way around the internet but there's nothing to worry about? Oi vay, I almost had a heart attack over here!
And looking on the bright side, the only side SU Athletics is capable of seeing, 13 of the 19 Syracuse athletic teams recorded an APR above the national average, including men's and women's cross country that scored a perfect 1,000. (nerds!)
One more thing. Every article mentions that Colorado and Syracuse are the only two BCS schools in football and basketball receiving penalties due to academics, and this is true. But it ignores the fact that 137 college sports teams are being penalized from 80 different schools. Here's the full list, which, for basketball alone, includes 30 other teams besides Syracuse. So don't think we don't see you on that list too, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis? What's your excuse?