INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA just gave the football programs at Miami and Ohio State a big morale boost.
Both programs outperformed many of their rivals in the classroom and joined 11 other Football Bowl Subdivision teams on this year’s list of academic overachievers.
The timing is impeccable for two of college football’s most prominent programs, both trying to repair damaged reputations after facing embarrassing NCAA investigations over the past 18 months.
An investigation into a series of tawdry allegations made last summer by former Miami booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro is ongoing. Shapiro claimed he provided improper benefits to 72 Miami football players and recruits from 2002 to 2010.
Jim Tressel resigned as the Buckeyes’ coach in May 2011 after admitting he knew players had likely accepted improper benefits. Some Ohio State players also were suspended, and the Buckeyes have been banned from the postseason this fall.
Now, the NCAA — which plans to vote in August on punishing the most egregious rule-breakers more harshly — has rewarded UM and Ohio State for success in the classroom.
“These teams prove that it is possible to not only balance academic and athletic commitment, as most student-athletes do; but to exceed standards and post outstanding academic scores,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said.
The Academic Progress Rate measures classroom performance of student-athletes on every Division I team. The so-called cutline, recently raised to 930 and being phased in, is better known because of the sanctions that can come from failing to reach it.
But the NCAA also annually recognizes teams with perfect scores of 1,000 and those that finish among the top 10 percent in their sport’s APR. This year’s data covers the four-year period from 2007-08 through 2010-11.
“We join our coaches and academic support staff in celebrating the academic achievement of these Miami Hurricanes, who have established a new high of five APR Public Recognition Awards,” Hurricanes athletic director Shawn Eichorst said.
“This success starts with dedication and perseverance by our student-athletes, who are able to balance the many pressures of college and still achieve academic success at a higher rate than the majority of their peers.”