Regents to discuss incorporating athletes’ academics in coaches’ compensation

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At its meeting Wednesday, the UC Board of Regents will discuss a report recommending that coaches’ and athletic directors’ compensation incorporate information about the academic performance of their athletes.

The report, produced by a working group of 10 members established in September at the request of UC President Janet Napolitano, recommends a minimum level of academic performance in order for coaches to receive incentive awards. It further recommends additional incentives based on academic metrics, in addition to bonuses based on traditional metrics of athletic success.

The minimum team academic performance — the “gatekeeper clause” — will use the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, or APR, which awards points for students remaining academically eligible and staying in school, averaging results over four years. Under the recommendation, if a team’s APR falls below 930 on the 1000-point scale, the team’s coach would not be eligible for bonuses of any kind — athletic or academic.

In 2015-16, the NCAA will require teams to earn an APR of 930 to compete in championships. The average APR is 976, according to the NCAA’s website.

The head coach of UC Berkeley’s football program, Sonny Dykes, is currently the university’s only coach with a gatekeeper clause in his contract. The program came under scrutiny after the NCAA released data showing poor graduation rates for the football and men’s basketball teams. The team had a 2012-13 APR of 938, below the national average of 951 for football teams.

Last year, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks convened the Task Force on Academics and Athletics, which examined the experience of student-athletes at UC Berkeley. In September, the group released a report recommending increased attention to class scheduling for student-athletes, in addition to a comprehensive recruitment and admissions program, among other items.

The university’s working group included H. Michael Williams, UC Berkeley’s interim athletic director, and Bob Jacobsen, a UC Berkeley professor who was also a member of the campus task force.

The university report also recommends bonuses for coaches based on athletes’ academic performance, using the APR and the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate metrics. The working group chose not to recommend that campuses use team GPA to evaluate performance over concerns that student-athletes might feel pressure to enroll in less-challenging courses, according to the report.

The policies will apply only to new or renewed contracts and will be gradually implemented at the university’s 10 campuses with athletic programs.

The report has been approved by Napolitano and will be presented to the board at its meeting at UCSF this week. The board must approve the delegation of appointment and compensation authority to the president of the university.

At the meeting, the regents will also receive an update on a proposed federal college-rating system. The federal government is seeking public comment on the system, which would measure accessibility, affordability and accountability and would go into effect in the 2015-16 academic year.

Napolitano has sent a letter to the federal government expressing her skepticism about the proposed system, citing concerns about redundancy and variety in the educational institutions to be measured.

Sahil Chinoy is the lead higher education reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @sahilchinoy_dc.