Thursday, May 07, 2009

Swimming? Swimming?

So, Auburn's annual Academic Progress Rate report has been released by the NCAA. How'd we do?
The NCAA's yearly Academic Progress Rate scores are in and three Auburn sports failed to make the grade: men's basketball, men's swimming and men's track.

The basketball team self-imposed the penalty last season and will have all of its scholarships available next season. Men's swimming was docked .99 of a scholarship (it is normally allowed 9.9) and men's track lost .03 of a scholarship (it is normally allowed 12.6).
Consider me unconcerned with the basketball loss. For one thing, the program's unfortunate attrition rate makes making the APR minimum all but impossible no matter what the players' grades are like. For another, the penalty was served last year ... and you can saw how much it hurt us. I don't think the men's hoops tema has had a full compliment of scholarship players for years, have they? (Of course, maybe this is part of the reason they spent so many years in the wilderness, but you get my point.)

But the loss of virtually an entire swimming scholarship ... that's big. The men's swim team just won a national championship. They have won six national championships in the past seven years. They are one of the Auburn athletic department's flagship programs--no doubt about that--and even if I didn't give them the kind of coverage and props they deserved this past season, they are an immense source of pride for Auburn fans and alums everywhere. If there's one program other than football I really, really don't want screwed up, it's men's swimming. So losing 1/10th of the team's available scholarship money, the equivalent of 8.5 football scholarships ... that's bad. Very bad.

Here comes the good news: Richard Quick and newly minted co-head coach Brett Hawke can probably find a way to cope. And though I'm not going to do anything other than speculate on why the swim team's APR fell below NCAA standards, my first guess would be that when you recruit some of the most talented swimmers in the world--literally--some of them are going to wind up leaving school to go swim for Speedo sponsorships without the hassle of 8 a.m. classes. And, if I'm interpreting Jacobs' quote here correctly, the punishment's already been served.

So maybe it's not the end of the world. But if the problem continues and in any way, shape or form, contributes to the end of the incredible run Auburn's had in this sport, that'll be quite the shame.

More APR reax:

--The football team dropped off from that top-of-the-SEC perch they had going for a little while there, but was still middle-of-the-pack in the SEC, and their score of 949 still leaves a little bit of margin-for-error.

--Kudos to Auburn's women's athletes, who had all nine teams safely above the 925 cutoff. Eight of those nine teams had scores of 950 or higher.

--Why is baseball struggling? At 938, they had a lower score than football or any women's team. Another bad year could land them in hot water.

--The race is over, folks--Ole Miss has successfully become the first SEC team to get docked football scholarships for their low APR score. Truly excellent work by The Orgeron here. Next year, Nutt's going to have no choice but to rein in the number of commitments. He probably won't even take more than, say, 42, 43.

The real story here is how this is going to subtly alter recruiting. Nothing will change for the studly studs, for whom schools will always be willing to take the necessary chances. But when the APR has enough teeth to bite the likes of a preseason top-10 team like Ole Miss, top-level teams have to take it seriously. If they're looking at two different two- or three-star sleeper, "taking a flyer" type players, and one of them has had some academic issues and might flunk out in a couple of years, and the other is a choirboy/valedictorian ... well, schools have always taken the latter when all else has been equal. But now, I wonder if that APR risk might be such that schools would go for Player B even if things weren't equal and Player A was the brighter athletic prospect. Maybe "only other offer is Duke" could actually start being a positive?

1 comment:

easyedwin said...

I never saw a swimmer 1974!!