After a one-year hiatus, the UConn men’s basketball team will be permitted to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2014. Prior to the 2012-2013 season, the program was put under NCAA sanctions for failing to meet the NCAA requirements for APR (academic progress rate) after a four-year APR of 897 that fell below the minimum of 900.
UConn’s Athletic Director Warde Manuel was quoted in support of the team’s academic efforts:
The players really took pride in saying, This is not us. We are student-athletes in the true sense of the word, they have showed that a one-year ban in the past is not a real indicator of how much they really focus on their academics as well as their athletics. That’s the thing that made us, internally, happiest.
Former head coach Jim Calhoun presided over some academic turmoil in the late 2000s, and the program’s academic standing was also weakened as a result of various early entries to the NBA Draft. In 2012, UConn went 20-10, and they were generally regarded as a fringe NCAA Tournament team as far as résumé was concerned. Current head coach Kevin Ollie has seemingly righted the ship in Storrs, and the roster is primed for a return trip to the tournament.
The focus of the NCAA on APR was openly mocked prior to the UConn exclusion, but in the midst of one of the elite basketball programs in the country missing a year of post-season play, it will be interesting to see how closely other situations will be monitored. Unfortunately for the Huskies, this was just one of many issues, and thus, it was largely overlooked by people outside of Connecticut. However, if they are better than 20-10 on the court during the upcoming season, I have a feeling that all will be forgiven.