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NCAA denies UConn's APR appeal as expected, but Huskies NCAA fight lives on

The NCAA put one more nail in UConn's 2013 NCAA Tournament coffin today, denying the school's appeal of its APR ban. UConn was appealing an NCAA ruling from January that upheld UConn's potential ban despite the school's attempts to improve both its academic record and the policies that govern the basketball team's academic activities. The denied appeal, disheartening as it may seem, was entirely expected as UConn reportedly did little or nothing to change their original argument to the NCAA.

New UConn athletic director Warde Manuel criticized the decision:

"When this change in legislation was adopted by the NCAA Board in October 2011 and made effective for the 2012-13 academic year, it gave the illusion that institutions had time to adjust to the legislation. Yet the data had already been submitted under a different penalty structure, one that would not have excluded our men's basketball team from participating in the post-season. The approach to APR marks the first time in the history of the NCAA that it has ever implemented an academic rule significantly impacting current student-athletes without allowing the members time to adjust to the adoption of the legislation."

This also does not forclose what has always been UConn's best chance of becoming eligible for next year's NCAA Tournament: a ruling by the NCAA's Committee on Academic Progress that schools could use APR data from 2011-12 to determine their 2013 eligibility. Right now the NCAA plans to calculate APR scores using information from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years. Using those numbers UConn would fail to meet the NCAA's required minimum, but if the Huskies were allowed to use the 2010-11 and 2011-12 data they would be eligible. That decision could be made as soon as late April, but might be pushed off until July. Here's Manuel talking about UConn's last, best chance:

"In recent months, CAP chairperson and University of Hartford President Walter Harrison has been quoted as saying that CAP wanted to provide institutions with `a chance to adjust'. In actuality, these changes were a retroactive application of the rules. It remains the belief of the University of Connecticut that CAP and the Board of Directors should consider delaying the effective date of the implementation for all institutions to 2013-14, and/or use the APR scores from the 2011-12 academic year to determine postseason eligibility for the 2012-13 year."

So yes, this is bad news, but it's expected bad news and doesn't change UConn's fate in any real way. The CAP will do that.