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Archive for the ‘Discussion’ Category

Team unaffected by low NCAA APR score

Posted by Jeff Nusser on May 6, 2008

The NCAA made some waves today when it released its yearly report on Annual Progress Rates — a four-year rolling rate designed to measure both retention of athletes and their progress toward a degree. Despite having one of the lowest APRs in the WSU athletic department, the basketball team avoided the penalties that befell the football team.

I found the low figure of 903 curious, given the reputation the Bennetts have for commitment to academic excellence. As it turns out, the only reason the number stands as high as it does is because the Bennetts are so awesome: The figure in Dick Bennett’s first season was abysmally low — 813, more than 100 points below the NCAA’s accepted standard of 925 — thanks to the remnants of the Paul Graham era. In the past three years, the team has posted scores of 938, 923 and 942, and will presumably rise safely above that 925 figure next year, making any future conversation about scholarship losses moot.

The team escaped penalty this year because all of the players who left the program in 2006-07, either through transfer or exhausted eligibility, were on track to graduate.

The only basketball team in the Pac-10 to lose scholarships was USC, which the Los Angeles Times reports was due to Lodrick Stewart, Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt not attending classes after the end of last season.

Honestly, that’s where I think this NCAA program gets it right. There’s got to be some accountability for players not interested in making progress toward graduation and for institutions who don’t make sure they are interested. This relatively new system, which is only just now fully taking shape, is infinitely better than the antiquated graduation rate system, which was the epitome of how statistics can be skewed to say just about anything you want.

But this APR system also underscores the continuing gap between the haves and the have-nots in the NCAA.

Consider: Of the 53 men’s basketball programs to receive sanctions, only six are teams from BCS conferences — USC, Kansas State, Purdue, Seton Hall, Colorado and South Carolina. BCS schools make up roughly 20 percent of all Division I basketball schools, yet comprised only 11 percent of sanctions.

Is it because BCS schools have a premium on academically committed athletes? Or could it be because they generally have far more resources at their disposal, such as small armies of tutors and counselors, to “ensure” students stay on track for graduation?

Just some food for thought.


Posted in Discussion, News | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

On Bennett’s raise

Posted by Jeff Nusser on May 5, 2008

So, there seems to be quite a bit of consternation that despite Tony Bennett receiving a sizable raise from the university, the buyout clause in his contract is still “only” $500,000 or so. Even though that’s a number that’s uncharted territory for any WSU coach, it doesn’t appear to be giving people a lot of comfort right now.

I know this is part of the angst built into our Cougar DNA, but let me provide a little perspective.

The sense I get is that everyone is reading a little too much into this raise. My understanding, from everything I’ve read, is that this isn’t a total restructuring of his contract, as it was last year — it’s just a raise.

Now, a $200,000 raise naturally raises the eyebrows of you and me who need four-to-six years to make that kind of jack — the sheer number makes us think that’s a huge raise, especially when the total amount the school is handing out has now topped seven figures. But it’s not even close to the kind of raise he received last year. Think of it this way: This is the equivalent of going from $40,000 a year to $50,000 a year — a nice raise to be sure, but not earth-shattering stuff.

The thing to keep in mind is that this was a one-sided affair, coming from the school’s side. Although Tony did ask for some things at the conclusion of the season, such as raises for his assistants and charter flights for the team, Tony didn’t ask for a raise for himself. Had he asked for it, I think it’s fairly obvious they all might have entered into the kinds of negotiations that would also protect the school with a larger buyout. But that wasn’t the case. Restructuring a contract is a complicated legal process that, quite frankly, I’m pretty sure neither side had any interest in undertaking.

Dale Carnegie would tell you that one of the three fundamental techniques in handling people is to “give honest and sincere appreciation.” I think this is precisely that. This is the school saying, “We know you didn’t ask for this, but hey, you’ve done an awesome job, and we want to let you know how much we value you by rewarding you.”

In an ideal world, we’d absolutely love to have a larger buyout. But that’s going to require ripping up the current agreement and going back to the drawing board, and that wasn’t going to happen this year. So the school did what it could do to protect its investment: Try to keep its best employee happy — not because he asked for it, but because it was the best thing to do.

Posted in Discussion | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Memories are awesome

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 28, 2008

I’m not quite ready to let go of this season and this group of seniors just yet. While I’m still working on my end-of-season thoughts, I thought I’d throw up a thread where you can post your favorite memories from not just the past two years, but the past four years for this group of seniors that changed everything.

My favorite memory? It was last year, at the UW game in Seattle. I had managed to score three tickets off the UW Web site Monday morning, and when I arrived at the game I found out that pretty much all those open tickets at the beginning of the week had been scooped up by Cougs. It was like having our very own student section up there — we partied like only Cougs can. We showed more spirit in that game than I’ve pretty much ever seen out of Husky fans. It had to feel a little bit like a home game for our boys.

The image that will be burned in my head? Ivory Clark dunking on Jon Brockman with Brockman’s face in, well, Ivory’s bathing suit area. That was so very sweet.

I had gone to the first UW game in Pullman, but that one was such an embarrassment without Spencer Hawes. To assert our dominance a second time with Hawes in the lineup … well, let’s just say that Husky arrogance was nowhere to be found.

So, what’s your favorite memory?

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Who needs to win more?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on December 5, 2007

Vince Grippi, the Cougs’ beat writer over at the Spokesman-Review, posed an interesting question this morning over at SportsLink that I thought it would be fun to throw out here for discussion as well.

Who has more on the line tonight?

For me, it’s an easy answer: The Cougs.

Here’s why. Their non-conference schedule has been softer than Santa’s belly, and while they’re going to play plenty of tough opponents in conference, the NCAA Tournament committee does look at performance outside of the conference. They notched one big win by beating a major conference opponent in a true road game; now they can beat a highly rated opponent in another true road game.

Gonzaga, on the other hand, has plenty of opportunities to impress the committee with it’s annually-loaded non-conference schedule. Plus, the Bulldogs’ RPI gets an automatic boost just by playing the Cougs because of their Pac-10 opponents. The Cougs get no such benefit if they lose.

Really, I think the Cougs only gain from this matchup if they win. Gonzaga benefits either way.

Your thoughts?

Posted in Discussion | 3 Comments »