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Date Posted: 10:19:52 04/29/04 Thu
Author: LarryL9797
Subject: Re: Recruits - 5/8 rule resolved by CTNOW.COM
In reply to: CCSU20M 's message, "Recruits" on 15:24:50 04/28/04 Wed

5-8 Rule Out
Recruiting Limits Were Unpopular

April 29, 2004
By KEN DAVIS, Courant Staff Writer

College athletics has a manual full of unpopular rules, but one that gained almost instant notoriety will be rescinded today by the NCAA Board of Directors.

The 5-8 rule limited men's basketball programs to signing five scholarship players in one year and eight in a two-year period. The intention was to attract players with better academic credentials and to discourage coaches from running off players. The actual result was confusion, denial of opportunities and more recruiting headaches.

The Division I Management Council voted unanimously April 19 to repeal the 5-8 rule, which also penalized schools by not allowing them to replace scholarship players who became academically ineligible. Coaches, who were never asked for their input when the legislation was written, will celebrate the finality of today's expected decision by the board of directors, which becomes effective immediately.

"It came in almost in the cloak of darkness," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said of the 5-8 rule.

Before the legislation was approved in 2001, Arizona coach Lute Olson referred to the rule as a potential disaster and it took little time for his remarks to become prophetic. Arizona was one of eight programs denied appeals when they tried to seek relief from the rule. After losing the 2001 national championship game to Duke, the Wildcats began the next season with 10 scholarship players, three below the NCAA limit of 13.

Arizona had five scholarship seniors and three players who forfeited their remaining eligibility to enter the NBA draft early. Olson had signed five recruits and couldn't replace the non-seniors.

"The longer we got into it, the more we got into it, we found problems - not potential problems, but reality problems," Sampson said.

Last October, men's basketball coaches met in Chicago and expressed their concerns about the 5-8 rule to NCAA president Myles Brand, who said he would examine the issue. Brand kept his word. Now Sampson is among many coaches encouraged that the NCAA's academic reform plan will deal with the problems the 5-8 rule originally targeted.

The management council also approved the reform package last week. The package, now known as the incentives-disincentives program, will punish schools and teams that fail to demonstrate commitment to academic progress, retention and graduation of athletes.

Chris Plonsky, chair of the management council and women's athletic director at Texas, said the 5-8 rule has outlived its usefulness.

"The management council really feels the incentives-disincentives, the continuing eligibility and the ratcheting up of academic standards does call attention to the issues with regard to low graduation rates and low performance in some programs across the country," Plonsky said.

The NCAA will form the Committee on Academic Performance to make final recommendations regarding penalties. It is anticipated that the loss of scholarships for programs failing to satisfy the minimum requirements could begin in 2005-06.

The proposed legislation includes creation of an academic-progress rate and a graduation-success rate that would eliminate the controversy over federal graduation rates that don't account for transfers or those earning degrees after a six-year period.

"I've listened to a lot of coaches over the years complain about how they've been painted with an incorrect brush because the graduation rates don't fairly reflect what you're actually doing within your institution," Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said. "The NCAA staff really has understood that and is working very hard to develop a fair means of evaluating graduation rates. Once they do that, I think the incentives-disincentives will be fine."

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