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MACsketball: NCAA Denies Toledo's Postseason Ban Appeal

Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk has better luck arguing with referees than the school does with the NCAA.
Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk has better luck arguing with referees than the school does with the NCAA.

If you were hoping that Rian Pearson and the Toledo Rockets could make a run in the MAC Tournament and be a surprise in the NCAA Tournament this coming season, you are out of luck.

The NCAA might get a bad rap for some of its rules enforcement, especially around player eligibility, but when it comes to academic reforms, the ruling body has made some huge strides.

Some schools might not see it that way though. Toledo is the latest school to have its appeal for a postseason ban in men's basketball denied by the NCAA, joining Connecticut as teams that will sit on the sidelines this coming year.

The Rockets are being punished for their low Academic Progress Rate, a number that measure how well a school is doing at getting their athletes to graduation. Toledo failed to meet the established standards of a four-year score of 900 and a two-year score of 930, which resulted in the ban.

The issue that Toledo had with the results was that the measurement was using older data, the same argument that Connecticut used in its appeal.

During the Gene Cross years (2007-10), it was as if the "student" in student-athlete was a four-letter word.

The Rockets put up APR numbers of 826, 813 and 896. Meanwhile, the rest of the country was averaging 933, 940 and 945 in those same years. Toledo ranked in the bottom 10th percentile over all sports teams across the country with that run. Simply put, Cross put the team in a bad spot.

The pain from those years has already been felt. Toledo played with a reduction in scholarships over the past two seasons. Those penalties are over now, but a new NCAA rule banning postseason play for bad APR scores didn't go into effect until this coming year.

The data being used to determine that ban is old though.

Under coach Tod Kowalczyk, who looked like he was coaching at Harvard while at Wisconsin-Green Bay averaging 956 over eight seasons, Toledo has improved. Since he took over, the Rockets have APR scores of 939 and 962.

The school was hoping that these improved numbers could be used in the calculation so that the ban would not affect them.

The NCAA wagged its finger and said, "Not so fast."

It is easy to see Toledo's point. The school has improved, and the kids being punished are not the same "students' who put the team into this mess.

At the same time, with the availability of data from all schools an issue, the NCAA has to draw a line somewhere, and giving schools a free pass would send a two-faced message. You can fail, but don't worry, if you just get rid of those athletes, we will still let you compete.

That isn't the way it should work, and unfortunately for Toledo, they have to pay this time.

The Rockets will also have a reduction in practice time during the week, and have to reduce its schedule by three games in the upcoming season.

According to the Kowalczyk, there is still a chance that the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance could change its mind and allow the more recent data to be used by all schools when it meets this month or in July.

Based on the recent rulings it seems unlikely, and the Rockets will be guaranteed to watch the postseason on television. It also likely means that the MAC will not invite Toledo to play in the MAC tournament, as if the Rockets won, they could not represent the conference in the NCAA tournament. Other conferences have made the same rulings for teams that are ineligible for the postseason.