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RMU women's basketball improves academic standing

The Robert Morris women's basketball team was the only one of the region's five Division I athletic programs to fall short of the minimum standard for the NCAA's Academic Progress Rates but escaped punishment after dramatically improving its scores the past two years.

The Colonials have a multi-year APR of 913 — below the NCAA standard of 925 — but raised its scores from 857 in 2006-07 and 868 in '07-08 to 962 and 980 the next two years. The APR is based on a four-year show of academic progress, retention and graduation from the 2006-07 school year to 2009-10.

"I think the intent of the APR is very wholesome, but you have to sometimes look at the circumstances behind it," Robert Morris women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia said. "We really increased it. We had two years we needed to improve on. Right now, we're in fine shape. This year will be another banner year for us."

New Pitt football coach Todd Graham's Tulsa team missed the NCAA cutline for the 2009-10 school year with a score of 908, but the Golden Hurricanes had an APR of 927 over his four-year tenure, and Graham's teams scored 988 and 972 in his two seasons as Rice football coach.

"Classroom achievement has been the highest priority at each of my coaching stops," Graham told the Tribune-Review in a statement released by the athletic department. "During our time at Rice and Tulsa, two very competitive academic institutions, we were above the NCAA's APR standard each time, never receiving penalties or a public reprimand."

After celebrating a national championship, the Connecticut men's basketball team is one of six BCS-affiliated programs sanctioned for sub-par scores in the Academic Progress Rates, released Tuesday by the NCAA. Connecticut's APR score of 893 was the second-lowest score of any BCS team in football and men's and women's basketball. The Huskies will lose two scholarships because two players left school in poor academic standing, and the NCAA notified UConn that it is in danger of facing harsher penalties if its score doesn't improve next year.

Schools scoring lower than 900 face "historical sanctions" that include punishments ranging from NCAA public warnings to loss of practice time and scholarships to postseason bans.

Arkansas men's basketball program had the lowest score among BCS schools (892) and will lose one scholarship. Four other BCS programs also face sanctions: Louisville and Maryland football could lose three scholarships if an equal number of academically ineligible players leave school, while Georgia Tech and Louisiana State men's basketball could each lose one scholarship.

A record eight teams received postseason bans this year, twice the number punished since postseason bans became part of the NCAA penalty structure for sub-standard APR scores in 2008. Southern University became the first school to receive postseason bans in two programs, football and men's basketball.

Idaho State and Jackson State football and Cal State-Northridge, Chicago State, Grambling and Louisiana-Monroe men's basketball teams also received postseason bans. Of the 58 schools punished, 29 are historically black colleges and universities, and the NCAA has promised to work with such schools to improve their academic progress, retention and graduation rates.

Additional Information:

Better grades

The Robert Morris University women's basketball team, coached by Sal Buscaglia, was the only team of the area's five Division I schools that failed to meet the NCAA Academic Progress Rate cutline of 925 over a four-year period between 2006-07 and the 2009-10 school years. The Colonials, however, escaped NCAA sanctions.

Pitt: 949 in football, 985 in men's basketball, 990 in women's basketball

Penn State: 972 in football, 995 in men's basketball, 985 in women's basketball

West Virginia: 962 in football, 995 in men's basketball, 972 in women's basketball

Robert Morris: 935 in football, 966 in men's basketball, 913 in women's basketball

Duquesne: 966 in football, 960 in men's basketball, 991 in women's basketball

Source: NCAA.org

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