April 11, 2006
Tucson, AZ (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Football scholarships are still waiting for junior-college recruits Louis Holmes and Gabe Long if they decide to attend Arizona, despite an NCAA sanction that forces the school to give up three scholarships for the 2006 season at the "next available opportunity," a senior athletic department official said yesterday.
Senior associate athletic director Rocky LaRose said because 24 of a possible 25 players, including Holmes and Long, signed letters of intent with the Wildcats by national signing day on Feb. 1, the recruits' scholarships would not be forfeited to the NCAA unless they enroll elsewhere by fall.
"If two of our athletes don't show up ... then we can use those two (scholarships) toward the three," she said. "If we had signed 25 (players), we would use three (scholarships) at the next available opportunity."
Arizona won an NCAA appeal last week restoring one of the four scholarships the football team lost for having a subpar Academic Progress Rate, a new tool the NCAA is using to gauge whether schools are retaining enough of their athletes.
In its first year under the APR, which looked at academic progress and athlete retention during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years, the football team scored 882 of a possible 1,000 points. It needed 925 points to keep all of its scholarships.
The NCAA decided March 18 to pull four scholarships from the team after Arizona made an overall appeal on the basis of instability at the head coaching position, LaRose said.
Longtime head coach Dick Tomey left Arizona after the 2000 season and was succeeded by John Mackovic (2001-2003) and Mike Hankwitz (2003) before Mike Stoops joined the team in 2004.
"For some of our fifth-year guys, they had four coaches," LaRose said.
Within a week or two after the overall appeal failed, LaRose said, the team received new information about one player whose status hurt the team's APR.
LaRose said the team gathered all the information it had on the player, whose name and situation cannot be given because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and presented it to the NCAA in the form of an individual-basis appeal.
Such an appeal can win if an athlete is shown to have family or medical issues or responsibility to a military or religious mission that jeopardizes his or her enrollment, she said.
The NCAA reviewed the information and granted Arizona one of the four scholarships within a week, she said.
Because the team signed only 24 players during its recruiting period, its leftover scholarship will help meet the sanction, LaRose said.
She continued to say that if any of the team's signed recruits do not enroll on campus this fall, their scholarships will go toward that end as well.
If not, Arizona will lose two scholarships for its 2007 recruiting class, she said. However, no current football players will be affected.
LaRose said that with the next deadline for APR data coming this fall, Arizona intends to avoid assessing future situations such as these on merely a yearly basis, as the APR is sorted by semester.
"I think it's been a long learning curve for all of us, and we plan to get better," she said.
(C) 2006 Arizona Daily Wildcat via CSTV U-WIRE