President Obama's Secretary of Education wants to drop the hammer on March Madness.
Arne Duncan, a hoops buddy of the president who formerly ran Chicago's public schools, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the NCAA should ban teams from playing in the annual men's basketball tournament if they fail to meet academic standards.
"Colleges and universities need to stop trotting out tired excuses for basketball teams with poor academic records and indefensible disparities in the graduation rates of white and black players," Duncan wrote. "And it is time that the NCAA revenue distribution plan stopped handsomely rewarding success on the court with multimillion-dollar payouts to schools that fail to meet minimum academic standards."
Duncan's suggestion: Don't let teams participate if they fail to score a 925 out of 1,000 on the NCAA's multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scale.
Ratings are calculated each year for each of a school's sports teams, with multi-year averages (the criterion Duncan suggests using) based on the four preceding academic years. Scoring below a 925 indicates that fewer than half of a team's players typically graduate, Duncan notes. Schools that score below 925 are subject to penalties.
So which schools, under Duncan's proposal, would be cast out of the tournament this year?
In the field of 68 (including four teams that compete in one-game playoffs for spots in the 64-team tournament), 10 teams would not qualify, based on the NCAA's most recent publicly available APR scores (from the 2008-2009 academic year). Here they are, in order of lowest multi-year APR to highest:
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Tournament seed: play-in for 12 seed
Conference: Conference USA
Record (pre-tournament): 22-9, 12-4 conf.
Penalties since 2008: Two scholarships lost in 2010, one lost in 2009, two lost in 2008. Practices reduced in 2010 and 2009.
Tournament action: One of four play-in teams in the expanded field. Lost to Clemson 70-52 on Tuesday night, failing to qualify as a 12 seed.
University of Texas at San Antonio
Tournament seed: play-in for 16 seed
Record: 20-13, 9-7 conf.
Tournament action: Defeated Alabama State in a play-in game Wednesday. Will play 1-seed Ohio State in first round of tournament.
University of California, Santa Barbara
Tournament seed: 15
Conference: Big West
Record: 18-13, 8-8 conf.
Tournament action: Will play 2-seed Florida in first round.
Tournament seed: 13
Conference: Ohio Valley
Record: 25-9, 13-5 conf.
Tournament action: Will play 4-seed Louisville in first round.
Tournament seed: play-in for 16
Record: 17-18, 11-7 conf.
Tournament action: Lost play-in game to UT-San Antonio on Wednesday.
Tournament seed: 3
National ranking (AP): 12
Conference: Big East
Record: 26-7, 12-6 conf.
Penalties: Lost two scholarships in 2010
Tournament action: Will play 14-seed Indiana State in first round.
Tournament seed: 3
National ranking (AP): 13
Conference: Big Ten
Record: 25-7, 14-4 conf.
Penalties: Lost one scholarship in 2008, another in 2009.
Tournament action: Will play 14-seed St. Peter's in first round.
San Diego State
Tournament seed: 2
National ranking (AP): 6
Conference: Mountain West
Record: 32-2, 14-2 conf.
Tournament action: Will play 16-seed Northern Colorado in first round.
University of Southern California
Tournament seed: play-in for 11
Record: 19-15, 10-8 conf.
Penalties: Lost two scholarships in 2008
Tournament action: Lost play-in game to Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday.
Tournament seed: 5
National ranking (AP): 21
Record: 22-10, 10-6 conf.
Penalties: Lost one scholarship in 2008
Tournament action: Will play 12-seed Utah State in first round.
This post was updated at 6:55. Purdue had been omitted from the list.