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May 2, 2007 - Knight Commission reaction to NCAA academic data released today

Statement by Knight Commission Co-Chairman R. Gerald Turner, President, Southern Methodist University, in response to the NCAA’s release of academic data today:

“We have reached a critical juncture on the road to academic reform. The NCAA has announced that at least 112 of the more than 6,000 teams in Division I will be subject to penalties for failing to meet minimum team academic performance standards. Many more teams could be affected: the NCAA projects that next year roughly 40 percent of football and men’s basketball teams, and more than a third of baseball teams, could lose scholarships or be subject to other penalties unless they make significant academic progress.

We expect that as more teams are penalized, more pressure will be exerted to weaken the reforms. But these reform measures must be implemented without changes. The NCAA Board of Directors took a courageous step when it created a system that comports with the Knight Commission’s 2001 recommendation to penalize teams that do not meet reasonable graduation rate standards. The vast majority of athletes are successful academically, but this program is imperative to ensure that college remains the central part of ‘college sports’ for all athletes and teams.”

Statement by Knight Commission Co-Chairman William E. “Brit” Kirwan, Chancellor, University System of Maryland:

“We can look to the sport of baseball for guidance as to how best to work within the academic reform environment. Baseball teams will face tougher standards and penalties than other sports because of the leadership demonstrated by baseball coaches, administrators and presidents, who worked together to address the sport’s high transfer rates and other academic challenges.

We need to create the best conditions for academic success for every athlete. The men’s basketball community, in particular, could learn from baseball’s example and undertake a serious and swift study to examine whether sport-specific rules changes could help improve the academic performance of men’s basketball players.”