Efforts to Improve Academic Performance Lead to NCAA Waiver

OGDEN, Utah – Citing demonstrated efforts to improve the academic performance of Weber State University’s football team, the NCAA has granted a conditional waiver request keeping the squad eligible for postseason play in 2009.

The waiver is contingent on team members continuing to meet or exceed NCAA required academic performance benchmarks.

While granting the waiver for postseason eligibility, the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Academic Performance upheld the existing reduction in scholarships (five) and practice time (16 hours a week instead of 20), which were imposed upon the team in May 2008 due to low Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores. During the 2008 season, coaches typically dropped a day of practice and used those four hours each week as study hall time instead.

Prior to the committee’s waiver decision, the WSU football squad was at risk of losing postseason eligibility for the upcoming season.

The football team’s penalties were based on a four-year average of APR scores (2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08). In requesting the conditional waiver, university officials pointed to a 976 APR score for the football team during 2007-08, well above the NCAA’s benchmark of 925, and the highest APR score ever achieved by the program.

In issuing the waiver, the Committee on Academic Performance acknowledged that the football team’s attainment of a 976 single-year APR “may signal that the significant steps taken by Weber State are having the desired positive academic result.”

“We had a great year scoring a 976,” said Norm Tarbox, vice president of Administrative Services. “We need to build on this and continue to demonstrate this kind of academic performance going forward. Our continued success on the field and in recruiting depends upon strong performances in the classroom.”

In announcing its findings, the committee noted WSU’s strong commitment to address and improve its football team’s APR and cited “exemplary presidential leadership and high-level administrative involvement in the development and implementation of the institution’s APR Improvement Plan.” The committee also acknowledged WSU’s efforts to adopt new minimum grade-point average requirements, restructure administrative oversight of academic support for student-athletes, and the coaching staff’s adoption of heightened academic accountability as signs of demonstrated progress.

“Clearly we’re pleased with the committee’s decision to grant a conditional waiver for postseason play,” athletics director Jerry Graybeal said. “Our administration, coaches and student-athletes all understand that this waiver is contingent on the football team continuing to make academic success a priority.
“The NCAA and Wildcat Athletics share a common goal: to see all our student-athletes achieve success in the classroom and earn their degrees.”

Tarbox and Graybeal said they hoped the issues with the football team didn’t overshadow the strong academic performance in the school’s other NCAA sports. 

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Program (APP) issues an annual report that evaluates academic progress of student-athletes for all NCAA teams competing at Division I schools and assesses penalties for teams that fall below APP guidelines.

WSU football was one of more than 200 college sports teams nationwide subject to sanctions from the NCAA as a result of the 2008 APR report.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Norm Tarbox, vice president of Administrative Services
801-626-6003 • ntarbox@weber.edu

Jerry Graybeal, Wildcat Athletics Director
801-626-7738 • jgraybeal@weber.edu

John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
801-626-7212 • jkowalewski@weber.edu