Washington State to lose eight football scholarships

Washington State to lose eight football scholarships
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Washington State University will lose eight football scholarships for failing to satisfy the latest NCAA academic progress standards, the school said Tuesday.

Two of those scholarships will apply to this academic year, while the remaining six are factored into the 2008 recruiting class, the school said.

"The NCAA has an appeals process but at this point we felt it was best to accept our penalties and move the football program forward," athletic director Jim Sterk said.

The NCAA on Tuesday released a nationwide report that recommended possible scholarship losses at nearly 150 college teams in all sports. The WSU football program was the only sport among the four Division I programs in the state - including Washington, Eastern Washington and Gonzaga - to face potential scholarship losses.

The 2007 Academic Progress Rate report showed that 13 of WSU's 17 sports programs are in compliance with NCAA guidelines. Men's basketball, baseball and volleyball are not, but, unlike football, do not face scholarship losses.

The report contains data for the previous four academic years and assigns each sport a corresponding score.

The APR awards two points each term to student-athletes who meet eligibility standards and remain with the institution. A team's APR is the total points earned by the team at a given time divided by the total points possible.

The football team recorded a four-year average score of 916, missing the 925 (out of 1,000) NCAA benchmark. Teams falling below 925, which the NCAA said equates to a graduation rate of 60 percent, are subject to scholarship penalties.

In the case of football, the 2006-07 single-year score of 874 dropped the four-year average under 925. The previous three years produced APR scores of 916 (2003-04), 955 (2004-05) and 921 (2005-06).

The penalties mean that WSU's football team is restricted to 22 new scholarships this year. Combined with continuing scholarships from previous years, it will have a total of 77 overall in the coming season - eight fewer than the 85 normally allowed to a top division football program. The Cougars are the only Pacific-10 school to lose football scholarships.

The Division I four-year average score was 928 for basketball and 934 for football. Among other Division I programs in the state:

-Washington had an APR of 948 for football and 943 for basketball.

-Eastern Washington was 940 for football and 898 for basketball.

-Gonzaga, which does not play football, was 965 for basketball.

Three other WSU sports did not reach the 925 benchmark - men's basketball (905), baseball (921) and volleyball (923). But they will not lose scholarships because they did not have any players depart while academically ineligible.

"I am encouraged by the majority of our athletic programs and the tremendous work our coaches and student-athletes have put forth, but the most recent APR score by our football program for last year is not acceptable," Sterk said.

Sterk said new football coach Paul Wulff, who replaced Bill Doba after last season, was aware of the situation and had assured him that academics would be a priority. While at Eastern Washington, Wulff's program had an APR score of 944 over the most recent three-year period.

Men's basketball has seen a dramatic improvement since Tony Bennett, and before him his father, Dick, took control of the program five years ago. In Dick Bennett's first season (2003-04) men's basketball's APR score was 813. The following three years have produced scores of 938, 923 and 942.

Baseball has also improved after a score of 853 in 2003-04. The scores have been 894, 952 and 962 the past three seasons. Volleyball produced scores of 976 in 2005-06 and 957 for 2006-07.

Every team posting an APR score below 925 is required to develop a specific academic improvement plan. Teams posting APR scores below 900 must submit those plans to the NCAA national office for review.

The NCAA said more than 700 of the 6,272 Division I teams fell short of the mandated cut score of 925 to avoid penalties, and 218 were assessed punishments.

The numbers show large Division I schools, like those in the Bowl Championship Series conferences, performed relatively well. Eighteen BCS teams were penalized, eight in men's and women's basketball and two, including WSU, in football.

Washington School Reports:

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