The Binghamton University men’s basketball team took the next step this week to move past the events that ravaged the program two years ago.
The program’s scholarship offers were limited to 11 players, following the dismissal of six players prior to the 2009-10 season, but after receiving a perfect Academic Progress Rating (APR) score of 1,000, BU awarded the program a full allotment of 13 scholarships for this year.
The APR measures the academic performances of Division I athletes. To calculate the score, each athlete receiving athletically-related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and another for remaining eligible.
To calculate a team’s total APR, the earned points are divided by the total potential points, then multiplied by 1,000. A reduction in the number of scholarships occurs if the score dips below 925.
“We had really closely monitored [the APR],” athletic director Jim Norris said. “That result represented a lot of hard work by a lot of different people. The administration, the coaching staff and most importantly the student-athletes.”
Norris, who took over as interim athletic director following the resignation of Joel Thirer, was promoted to full athletic director in May and will be replaced as AD by Patrick Elliot Nov. 14.
Norris said that a plan was designed and implemented to improve the program’s future APR amidst the anticipation of an abysmal score following the mass dismissal. The plan stressed the importance of academic integrity and clearly defined the expected role of student-athletes. As expected, the team earned an APR of 739 following the 2009-10 academic year.
Following the conclusion of that season, the University self-imposed a two-scholarship reduction after requesting a waiver of approval from the America East. Under normal circumstances, the conference mandates that member schools must designate all 13 available scholarships.
The NCAA would have regularly imposed a two-scholarship reduction had the University not done so on its own.
“We agreed that what we really had to do was sacrifice short term to ensure long term,” Norris said.
As a result, the men’s basketball team played its 2010-11 campaign with only 10 players on scholarship. The 11th, which according to the aforementioned AE mandate was required to be assigned, was eventually awarded to guard Chris Rice. Rice, who enrolled at BU in January of last year, never played in any games, and as a result returns to the Bearcats as a freshman this season.
Following the release of the new APR, third-year head coach Mark Macon announced junior guard Jimmy Gray had been awarded one of the two reinstated scholarships for this season. Gray, a Binghamton High School graduate, is Binghamton’s leading returning scorer after averaging 6.5 points per game last year.
The other available scholarship has yet to be assigned, but in order to comply by the rules it must be applied by the end of this season.
The magic number for BU was 900, and luckily the program reached the mark when it needed to.
Due to recent scandals, the NCAA has taken steps to ensure that Division I athletes are academically eligible for athletically-related financial aid. The NCAA announced the newest changes to the APR program last Thursday.
Prior to this year, a minimum score of 900 was required to participate in postseason tournaments, but new standards will go into effect in 2012-13. Next season, teams will be required to accumulate a multi-year score of 900, and to be eligible for postseason play they must average an APR of 930 over the two most recent seasons.
The benchmark will raise even higher in 2013-14, when teams will be required to post a four-year rolling APR of at least 930, as well as a 940 average over the two most recent seasons.
Though the men’s basketball program’s perfect score stole the spotlight and garnered the most media attention, 10 other Binghamton programs achieved the same mark.
“I think this is clearly case closed as far as what transpired two years ago, and this is maybe the final piece,” Norris said.