Maryland to coaches: No bonus if your athletes are stumbling in classroom

Story highlights

  • At four state universities in Maryland, bonuses for coaches will be on the line
  • They'll lose their bonuses if fewer than half of their team players are on track to graduate
  • Board of regents member: "Oversight is the name of the game"
Coaches at state universities in Maryland have a new financial incentive to make sure their players perform in the classroom as well as on the field
On Friday, the board of regents for the University System of Maryland voted to withhold bonuses from Division One coaches if fewer than half of their team players are on track to graduate.
It does not apply to coaches who already have contracts.
"The concept is that based upon that current year, if the team fails academically, they can't get their bonus," says board member Tom McMillen, a former basketball player and former U.S. representative.
He's been pushing for this since 2013, when he reviewed about 50 collegiate coaching contracts and found that only one, the University of Connecticut, tied academics to bonuses.
UConn had just emerged from an NCAA post-season ban because so few athletes were on track to graduate. But McMillen said the school dropped the provision when then-basketball head coach Jim Calhoun was replaced by Kevin Ollie. CNN couldn't reach UConn for comment.
"We felt this would make sense to adopt systemwide," McMillen said. "It was really sort of based on the Connecticut concept. We're not aware of any other system or group of schools that do it."
Four state universities within the Maryland system will be affected: The University of Maryland in College Park, Towson University in Baltimore, Coppin State University in Baltimore and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
McMillen said the Athletic Department uses an NCAA point system called the APR -- for Academic Progress Rate -- to track each athlete's progress toward graduation. If that number falls below 50% for the team, the NCAA punishes a school with a post-season ban.
Maryland will use that same system to withhold coaches' bonuses.
"The schools keep their own APR -- the school knows what the APRs are. They can forecast it even before the season is over. They know based on kids' grades," McMillen said.
McMillen said he hopes it will force coaches to think before recruiting "one-and-done" basketball players who often bring a year of success to a team and then leave for the draft. One-and-done players can hurt the APR score.
He also says this additional oversight is important in light of the revelations at the University of North Carolina, where it was revealed last week that rampant academic fraud existed for nearly 20 years.
"The lesson from North Carolina ... it's very troublesome that they would not know what's going on," McMillen said.
"All these coaches and (athletic directors) to not know what's going on is pretty surprising. ... So much lack of oversight. Maryland is saying, wait a minute, there's going to be a lot of oversight here. Oversight is the name of the game."