Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has spent lots of time recently talking and thinking about what he calls an “upside down” NCAA academic model.
Instead of only penalizing negative behavior, Bowlsby believes there needs to be incentives to reward positive academic behavior. He said there should be competitive advantages for schools that graduate more players than others as opposed to only providing penalties -- such as postseason bans -- to schools with low Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores.
Lately, there's very preliminary chatter within college sports of one way to do this: Roll back the clock and eliminate NCAA initial eligibility standards. Schools could accept whatever athletes they want academically but with graduation rates tied to scholarships as an incentive to enroll students who can play sports and graduate.
“The advantage would be the NCAA wouldn't be viewed as the ogre in Indianapolis that keeps kids from having the opportunity to be eligible,” said Bowlsby, who stressed he doesn't support the idea at this time. “Put it back on the schools, and maybe you tie initial scholarships to graduation rates. If your undergraduate population graduates at 70 percent and your athletic population graduates at 45, you don't get to replace scholarships until you get to the place where you meet what the rest of the school does. There's a lot of ways you could incentivize.”