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May 6, 2009

Matta, Buckeyes take APR hit

Coach Thad Matta saw this day coming.

Ever since the early departure of then-freshman Greg Oden back in 2007, the Ohio State men's basketball program has been walking a tight rope with the NCAA when it came to their Academic Progress Rate.

The hammer finally fell Wednesday, as Matta and the Buckeyes were docked two scholarships for the upcoming 2009-10 basketball season thanks to a deficient APR of 911 for the last four academic years.

Because Oden withdrew from classes after the deadline, he was deemed an "0-for-2" player, meaning he did not successfully complete an academic term or return for the next one. As a result, Ohio State was expected to lose one scholarship a year ago when their APR fell to 909, but the NCAA granted a stay of execution based on an academic improvement plan submitted by the university.

While the OSU basketball team did improve its APR score by two points in the past year, it apparently was not enough progress to receive a second stay of execution, as teams must have an APR of 925 to avoid penalties.

A big reason the Buckeyes could not dodge the axe a second time was the presence of yet another "0-for-2" player in Kosta Koufos. Like Oden, Koufos left OSU after his freshman season and he too withdrew from classes after the deadline (the 15th day of spring quarter).

The penalties leave Ohio State with just 11 scholarships for next season, something Matta has seen as a real possibility for some time. With the departure of B.J. Mullens, the Buckeyes are set to return 11 scholarship players from last year's team and Matta elected not to sign any newcomers in the class of 2009 as a precautionary measure.

The decision by Mullens to leave after his freshman season should not have any lingering affects on the program down the road, assuming he left in good academic standing following winter quarter. The same cannot be said for Anthony Crater, who left Ohio State just 10 games into last season (after the deadline to withdraw from classes).

The men's basketball team was the only sport at Ohio State to suffer penalties as a result of the new APR. Coach Jim Tressel and the football program finished with a multi-year APR of 968 - up from 942 a year ago - which qualifies for the 80th to 90th percentile of programs. Other notable sports were the women's basketball program at 993 and the baseball team at 987. Men's tennis and women's cross country came in at a perfect 1,000, and all four sports were recognized by the NCAA last month.

Other teams in the Big Ten to be hit by penalties on the basketball court were Purdue and Indiana. The Boilermakers will lose one scholarship for the upcoming season while the Hoosiers lost two scholarships, both of which were applied to last season. The Minnesota football program was docked three scholarships thanks in big part to the 12 players who left the program during the coaching change.


Click here for Ohio State's complete four-year Academic Progress Report.


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