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UCLA men’s basketball team barely escapes NCAA penalties for poor academic progress

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UCLA’s men’s basketball and football teams both ranked last among Pac-12 teams as the NCAA released progress rate scores Wednesday.
(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

The UCLA men’s basketball team narrowly avoided penalties as a result of low academic progress rate scores released by the NCAA on Wednesday, with the Bruins’ score falling for a fifth consecutive year in the metric that is widely used as a gauge of academic success.

UCLA’s multiyear APR score of 933 was just above the 930 threshold that is required for teams to compete in the 2019-20 postseason, though there are exceptions. The Cal State Northridge men’s basketball team did not receive a postseason ban after logging a multiyear score of 888 but must forfeit four hours and one day of practice per week during the season, which will be replaced with academic activities.

UCLA’s multiyear score, which included the four-year span from 2014-15 to 2017-18, was the worst in the Pac-12 Conference and ranked in the bottom 10% nationally. USC’s multiyear score of 973 tied Oregon State for fifth in the conference, well behind Stanford’s top mark of 997.

Contributing factors to UCLA’s low score included players who left school in bad academic standing, including those who departed for the NBA draft with remaining eligibility, as well as unique challenges associated with being on the quarter system such as final exams being held during postseason play. A handful of players underperforming academically also magnifies its impact on APR in sports such as basketball with small roster sizes.

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The Bruins’ football team also fared poorly; its multiyear score of 948 was the worst in the Pac-12. USC’s multiyear score of 972 ranked sixth in the conference, trailing California (979), Arizona State (980), Stanford (986), Utah (989) and Washington (991).

The Bruins’ multiyear football score was partially a function of a steep single-year dropoff to 881 for the 2017-18 academic year, which could be traced in some measure to a flurry of transfers as part of the transition from coach Jim Mora to Chip Kelly.

There was better news for UCLA in other sports. Four teams — women’s beach volleyball, women’s golf, men’s volleyball and men’s cross-country — received APR public recognition awards with perfect scores of 1,000 for multiple years. Eleven Bruins teams also earned single-year perfect marks of 1,000 for the 2017-18 academic year.

USC’s cumulative multiyear score of 983 across all of its 21 athletic teams was the school’s best ever, giving it a new all-time high for the sixth consecutive year. Twelve teams earned at least a 990 multiyear APR, with six — men’s golf, men’s track, men’s volleyball, women’s beach volleyball, women’s cross-country and women’s golf — reaching a perfect score of 1,000. Nine teams registered single-year perfect marks of 1,000 for the 2017-18 academic year.

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