UC Board of Regents discusses policy tying coach bonuses to academic progress

The UC regents reviewed a report from a working group at their Wednesday meeting that recommends ways for the university to link UC coaches’ bonuses to their athletes’ academic performance.

The President’s Working Group on Coaches/Athletic Director Compensation and Student Athlete Academic Performance, established by UC President Janet Napolitano in September, recommended several options to improve UC policies, including changing performance incentives, creating an awards program, refining a performance review process and amending the current compensation process.

At the meeting, though, there was question of whether such a policy would have a significant impact. Some regents, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, called for higher academic standards for student-athletes.

UC Regent Eddie Island also spoke against arrogance toward the role of athletics on university campuses. For some Hispanic and black men, he said, sports were a “ticket into society” and to higher education.

The working group, which conducted a detailed review of all contracts for UC athletic coaches and evaluated partial contracts for coaches at other Pac-12 schools, presented its report to Napolitano in December and received her approval.

The recommendations include requiring that student-athletes receive a sufficient score on an academic metric known as the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, or APR, before their UC coaches can earn incentive payments.

The APR assigns up to two points to student-athletes: one based on staying in school and the other on staying academically eligible. To calculate a team’s aggregate APR score, individual scores of athletes are added together and multiplied by 1,000. The APR is reported as a team’s four-year average.

In what is referred to as the “gatekeeper” clause, the report recommends that coaches’ teams must meet a four-year average APR of at least 930, which is the threshold before performance incentive payments are granted to coaches.

Sonny Dykes, UC Berkeley’s head football coach, is currently the UC system’s only coach with such a gatekeeper stipulation in his contract.

Additional incentives include instituting “Exemplary Team(s) of the Year” awards, which would provide award money to teams that excel in academics and public service.

UC Berkeley’s football team’s APR was 938 for 2012-13, compared to a 958 average, according to the NCAA website. Its men’s basketball team scored 939 for the same year, and its women’s basketball team scored 954, compared with averages of 964 and 974, respectively.

If implemented, the policy will only affect new or renewed contracts at the 10 UC campuses with athletic programs. For coaches who join teams currently below the four-year average APR threshold, a corrective window of time will allow newly hired coaches enough time to raise their teams’ APR scores.

Other matters discussed at Wednesday’s meeting included the announcement of Yvette Gullatt’s appointment as the university’s first vice provost for diversity and engagement. Gullatt will oversee issues of diversity and inclusion and will coordinate her efforts throughout the university.

Senior staff writer Melissa Wen and staff writers Heyun Jeong, Alex Barreira and Sahil Chinoy contributed to this report.

Contact G. Haley Massara and Bo Kovitz at [email protected].