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Monday, March 06, 2006

Aaaargh. Right. If anyone has any computers they'd like to give boot-sector smallpox, I am charging a reasonable fee.

Anyway... The APR debate continues at the official NCAA blog The Double A Zone. To their credit, they left the rah-rah at home. Money graf:

The fact that some of the 99 penalized teams were significantly below the 925 cut score, which only correlates to a 60 percent graduation rate, makes me worry about what is happening on some of our college campuses.
Emphasis mine, because huh what hello? Knowing full well that the attention paid to the intricacies of the APR will be cursory at best by the vast majority of the public, the NCAA concocted a score with a maximum of 1000 and a stiff-sounding 925 pass/fail line... that happens to correspond to a 60% graduation rate? Fishy.

However, Pat Forde goes too far in his hatchet job:
The NCAA's new Academic Progress Rates benefit the big-time schools and hurt the small timers.

That's the primary conclusion that can be drawn from the report released Wednesday. (There is no truth to the rumor that the letterhead on the report read, "NCAA: Of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.")
Ouch... Forde just bludgeoned both the NCAA and his own credibility on this matter with said ill-considered cheapshot. Forde's argument boils down to this:
  • Schools with money can spend it on keeping their athletes eligible.
  • Schools without can't.
  • This is cosmically unfair.
  • Why does the Sun Belt exist, anyway?
Here at MGoBlog we're bang on with that last bullet, but in effect Forde is complaining that the NCAA is forcing its member schools to spend money educating its athletes. Um... okay. Good luck with that. In between complaining about the NCAA's "caste system"--Mr. Shirky would like to explain the power law on line two--he inserts small disclaimers that absolve him of responsibility for his words:
I'm all for rigorous academic standards for college athletic departments
No, you aren't. If you were, you would not have written this article.

How exactly is the NCAA supposed to deal with this other than setting standards for progress towards a degree for schools? You have two choices: this or nothing. It's telling that Forde's most damning accusations lay out like so:
Tennessee's athletic Web site lists 17 individuals who work at or with the Thornton Center -- not including tutors -- all dedicated to the academic advancement of Big Orange athletes. There are five academic counselors devoted to individual sports -- including one whose sole focus is the Volunteers football team.
I suppose it's reasonable to be angry at the NCAA for forcing Tennessee to care about the education of its athletes and thus undoubtedly accelerating the impending Apocalypse, but unless that's your plan of attack you'd probably be better off not attempting to portray tutors as a bad thing. Louisiana-Monroe can't afford them? Well, then ULM has two reasonable options:
  • Don't recruit people who need tutors.
  • Drop their ridiculous football program.
Elsewise: The AP now has a selection of podcasts for your perusal, including one about the weekly basketball poll. No doubt they fear the mighty BlogPoll.

...but seriously, folks, if you have any feedback I can pass it along to the nice man who pointed out the podcast's existence. They're just getting started and would like to hear what works and what doesn't.

Deadspin had a chat with Will Blythe, the author of the outstandingly-named "To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever," that briefly discusses how unfulfilling most professional sportswriting is. Succinct and less rambling than my occasional manifestos.