Due to a subpar Academic Performance Rate (APR) spanning the past four seasons, the Binghamton University men’s basketball team has been issued a “Level One Penalty – Practice Reduction” by the NCAA for the upcoming 2014-15 season. A level one penalty reduces a team’s practice time by four hours and one day per week.

This marks the first year Binghamton has received a penalty. Rather than a reflection of the team’s academic performance last season, the change is due to policy revisions within the APR. Whereas the benchmark for level one penalties stood at 900 in times past, it has been raised to 930 this year. As a result, 57 Division I teams received penalties across the three levels – a jump from last year’s 32.

APR scores are calculated per semester before they are averaged for a total result. Scholarship student-athletes earn one point for their team each semester they remain eligible, and an additional point for remaining enrolled in the school or graduating.

Binghamton’s men’s basketball team would have reached the mark without the change – its APR currently stands at 908.75, which includes its 739 mark from the 2009-10 season. Meanwhile, the student-athletes from last season recorded a 979 mark, following averages of 1,000 and 917 in the past two years.

“I think the NCAA’s academic performance program that’s been implemented over the past several years has had a very positive impact relative to academic performance, and I think it’s an important thing to stress the importance of academic achievement and to have standards which relate to it,” BU Director of Athletics Patrick Elliott said.

Although the aftershock of that 2009-10 season is still rippling through the men’s basketball team, this year is the last in which its APR number will factor into BU’s average.

“The APR is a four-year metric. We respect that, and we appreciate all the efforts that the NCAA is undertaking to emphasize academic performance and academic excellence,” Elliott said. “So we just focus on the future. We just focus on working hard across all of our sports and to providing the resources that we can to help our student athletes be successful in the classroom.”

That concurs with the mentality behind the APR’s increased strictness: to encourage greater academic success from student-athletes in Division I programs. That ideality is evidenced by the NCAA’s mandate that those hours at the first penalty level formerly spent on practice and training be replaced by academic activities.

To be eligible to even participate in the upcoming season, teams must have a four-year average of 930 or above, or over a 940 in the past two years. Binghamton qualified through the latter with a 948 mark over the past two seasons. Conversely, 36 teams – as opposed to last year’s 13 – are ineligible for the postseason after failing to meet either of those criteria.

On a larger scale, the average four-year APR for men’s basketball is 957, according to the NCAA – up five points from last year.

The BU men’s basketball program is one of 57 Division I teams to take a penalty this season, and the only one from Binghamton. Additionally, no other America East program has been issued a penalty for the upcoming season.