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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 2, 2006

NCAA penalizes Warrior football team

 •  Smart thing to do now is act swiftly, decisively

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

University of Hawai'i football coach June Jones said the five scholarships his program lost for failing to meet NCAA guidelines measuring eligibility and enrollment will be harmful only if the problem is not corrected.

"If it continually goes bad," Jones said, "eventually I think it would hurt you. I don't see it hurting us in the immediate part. I'm sure that's part of the (NCAA's) thinking, that 'it won't impact you immediately but you'd better get it corrected or down the road it will come back to haunt you.' "

The NCAA created a formula the Academic Progress Rate (APR) that awards points for each semester a player remains at a school and in good academic standing during a two-year period. For instance, each semester a player remains at his school and remains eligible (or graduates), he earns two points. A player who is academically eligible but transfers or leaves early to pursue a professional career, receives one point. An ineligible player who leaves earns no points.

The NCAA determined teams should hit 92.5 percent of the total, or 925 APR points. The UH football team had an APR of 898 for the academic years 2003-04 and 2004-05, resulting in a loss of five scholarships to offer to recruits. NCAA Division I-A football teams are allowed to offer a maximum 25 scholarships to recruits each year. Jones said he rarely offers that many.

UH athletic director Herman Frazier can cede the five scholarships this year, next year or split them over both years. Although some of the lost scholarships may be restored if the football team meets the APR regulations this academic year, "we'll put these penalties in place," Frazier said.

Jones said he will honor all scholarships promised to 2007 recruits. There are about five grayshirts 2006 high school graduates who will delay enrolling at UH until January 2007.

The only other UH program to fall below the NCAA's APR was baseball (890), which faces a loss of 1.17 scholarships.

Frazier said his coaches have been updated several times on the APR guidelines through workshops and meetings. "They know what's going on," Frazier said.

Frazier and Jones said the football team's APR score could not be traced entirely to academic performance. They said UH has been penalized for players who left the program, even in good academic standing.

Seven of the 18 recruits who signed with UH in February 2004 are no longer with the team. UH signed three quarterbacks that year. One transferred because he wanted more playing time and another enrolled in a junior college to better assist him with a medical problem. Also, defensive lineman Abu Ma'afala transferred to California in the summer of 2004, and brothers Mike Bass and Ray Bass transferred at the end of the season.

"I recruit a lot of quarterbacks, and I recruit certain positions, and when guys get frustrated and they're not playing, I try to get them scholarships at other schools," Jones said. "I've called other coaches around the country. Like Michael Bass is at Montana (State). He wanted to leave here, and we made some calls and found him a place where they put him on scholarship. That's happened a bunch of times. Now those things are going to come back to haunt you. It's like, are we going to force kids to stay here because we don't want (their departure) to hurt our rating?"

Jones said UH has upgraded the academic support system for the players. He said coaches are assigned to check his players' class attendance daily.

"If they're not there (in class), they pay the price" Jones said.

Freshman linebacker Adam Leonard said: "You can get tutored for any class. If they don't have tutors down there, they'll look for tutors on the upper campus. They put a focus on helping you academically here."

Leonard is earning As and Bs this semester. "If you don't put in any effort, it's still hard for you to flunk out," he said. "If you put forth any effort, you're going to do well in class."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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