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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Regents spotlight athletics

    The UA released the first figures resulting from new NCAA guidelines for monitoring the academic progress of athletes at the Arizona Board of Regents meeting yesterday.

    The baseball program had the overall lowest grades among student athletes at the UA, and the football team lost three scholarships last year, more than any Division I school in the country.

    “”We’re not pleased where we are right now,”” said Jim Livengood, UA athletic director. “”But I am pleased with where we’re going.””

    The newly adopted academic progress reports will be much harder on universities and their teams than the ones used in the past, Livengood said.

    “”We’re not pleased with where we’re going.””
    – Jim Livengood,
    UA athletic director

    Baseball hurts the most under those new NCAA standards, Livengood said.

    NCAA rules state that senior players must maintain their grades in order to keep playing, and most professional sports leagues require their recruits to graduate before becoming professional.

    Baseball, however, only requires three years of college play. For that reason, many players can neglect their classes with the knowledge that they do not have to graduate.

    Although grades may not be up, the athletics department did report an estimated $750,000 balance for this fiscal year, but Livengood said the number could end up being smaller if there are any unforeseen expenses.

    “”The financial situation is great,”” said President Robert Shelton. “”Unlike many other institutions, we have not been running deficits.””
    Shelton also acknowledged a need to improve the academic standing of certain teams.

    Livengood attributed part of the football team’s academic performance to the stress caused by the relatively high turnover rate in the coaching staff.

    “”Regardless of your viewpoint, you ought to be able to find a forum for free speech at a public university.””
    – Kecvin R. Kemper,
    Assistant professor of journalism

    “”Changing coaches isn’t the best academic medicine for the APR or the graduation rates,”” Livengood said.

    But even despite those setbacks, Shelton said he thinks the football team has been making progress over the years.

    Livengood said the two teams have a lot of work to do but he’s confident the athletics department has its “”arms around them.””

    The football team in particular is important for generating money for the UA.

    Out of 19 different sports, Livengood said only two, football and men’s basketball, will produce any revenue for the athletic department in this fiscal year.

    The UA reported net earnings of $9.45 million from the men’s basketball team and $5.2 million by the football program.

    The football team will bring in about $500,000 less than men’s basketball in total revenues, but it will also cost $3.75 million more to fund this year.

    Livengood said the academic unit of the athletics department has been moved to the University College, a division of the enrollment management department. Funding for the transformed unit is still being worked out, he said.

    Regent Dennis DeConcini said he wanted Livengood’s department to set aside some of the $750,000 surplus for a “”rainy day”” in the future.

    “”It’s a business principle that you accumulate some reserves,”” DeConcini said.

    DeConcini said he was satisfied with Livengood’s promise to look into the idea of saving some of UA Athletics’ current surplus for that purpose.

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