We are two weeks away from the start of the college basketball season and we already have terrible news: the NCAA is considering a rule change that would keep UConn out of this March's NCAA tournament. We've known for a while that the NCAA was planning to raise the Academic Progress Rate (APR) threshold necessary to get into the tournament, but they weren't expected to do so until the 2012-13 season. But today NCAA president Mark Emmert said that this Friday that Division 1 board of directors will vote on whether or not to put the rule in place for this season, and as the Courant pointed out, it's mathematically impossible for UConn to get their score high enough.
There are waivers that might allow the Huskies to get through, but let's hope it doesn't come to that. The real problem here is a lack of notice, as it feels grossly unfair to drop this on teams right before the season starts. Even if you don't want to give UConn any sympathy, it is certainly unfair to do it to the incoming freshmen who might have gone elsewhere if they knew the Huskies tournament eligibility was threatened.
There's also the fact that the APR is a stupid, poorly devised system that doesn't do a good job of measuring what it purports to. It's all pretty infuriating but I don't think I can sum up my feelings any better than Meacham did in an e-mail he sent me:
"It would be the most NCAA thing ever to make a big show out of punishing one major program to hide the fact that the NCAA is a largely toothless, impotent organization that can't police its members."
Oh, and if you're wondering if there is a way you can blame Jonathan Mandeldove for this, yep, there is, because he is one of two players that left UConn in poor academic standing, crippling the team's APR score (the other player was Darius Smith, and I won't count that one because you're never going to convince me Darius Smith existed or enrolled at UConn).