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WSU volleyball faces penalty despite 2012-13 academic improvements

Not even good grades and perfect attendance were enough to get the Washington State volleyball team out of academic trouble.

The NCAA released its Academic Progress Rates on Wednesday. Although the Cougars scored a perfect 1,000 for the 2012-13 season, they face a Level One penalty because of a bad year that still affects their four-year rolling average.

The NCAA uses a team’s multiyear score to determine sanctions. The volleyball team’s score of 929 falls below the 930 threshold that disqualifies teams from playing in the postseason. Because the team has demonstrated significant academic improvement, the NCAA reduced its sanctions.

According to the NCAA, “Level One penalties focus on practice restrictions, allowing teams to use that time to focus on academics. Teams facing this penalty lose four hours and one day of practice time per week in season, replaced with academic activities. This year, 42 teams face this level of penalty.”

The team’s average is anchored down by an 837 scored in 2010-11 by the previous coaching staff, a bad mark that will be included in next year’s multiyear score as well.

The APR is calculated by giving each student-athlete one point for staying in school and one point for getting good grades. The point total is then divided by the number of possible points and multiplied by 1,000 to calculate the final APR for that semester.

The NCAA also provides APR adjustments for students who transfer to another four-year school after earning a 2.6 grade-point average and those who leave school to pursue a professional career while in good academic standing.

Gonzaga had an exemplary performance with nine teams recording a perfect score and five others scoring in the 990s. The lowest-scoring team, men’s basketball, still scored a more than respectable 979.

Women’s basketball was the only WSU team to record a perfect multiyear score, but the volleyball, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, rowing, swimming and tennis teams each had perfect scores last season.

“The overall academic performance of our student-athletes is indeed remarkable,” WSU faculty athletic representative Ken Casavant said. “Their hard work, under trying workloads, results in this solid performance.  I commend our student-athletes and their coaches for their commitment to academic success.”

While the NCAA has shown a willingness to be lenient to schools with limited resources or that show significant improvement, it has also meted out significant punishment to underperforming schools.

Idaho football is one of 36 teams from different sports that will be ineligible for postseason play in 2014-15. While the Vandals have advanced to just two bowl games in almost two decades of FBS football, Paul Petrino’s squad will not have the incentive of postseason play in the coach’s second year and will lose four hours of practice each week.

The offending scores will be part of UI’s average in future years as well. The Vandals scored an 881 in 2011 and an 838 in 2012, all under former coach Robb Akey. The school unsuccessfully appealed, citing conference upheaval and behavioral issues in the program as mitigating circumstances.

The Cougars ranked ninth among Pac-12 schools in football with an APR of 944, moderately above the 930 threshold.

Stanford finished first in the conference with an APR of 984, while California ranked last with an APR of 938.

The WSU men’s basketball team placed last in the conference with an APR of 938, narrowly avoiding academic penalties.

That’s a steep drop from the team’s score for the 2011-12 academic year of 957, which had already included the departures of Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto. The team’s future score could also be adversely affected by Danny Lawhorn’s departure this year.

Likewise, former coach Ken Bone’s dismissal of Reggie Moore from the team harmed the Cougars’ APR score.

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