Gophers football loses three athletics scholarships

After the release of Academic Progress Reports, the Gophers football team will recruit three fewer players in 2009.

The University of Minnesota football team will lose three athletics scholarships in the 2009 recruiting year after scoring below the minimum on the NCAAâÄôs Academic Progress Report. According to the report issued by the NCAA , the UniversityâÄôs football score dropped from 927 to 887 for the 2007-08 year, with a multi-year âÄî encompassing four years âÄî score of 915, meaning the team failed to meet the minimum APR requirement of 925. Out of the UniversityâÄôs 25 sports, only the football program was sanctioned for low APR scores. No Big Ten football programs have been penalized for low APR scores in recent years. The purpose of the report, according to the NCAA, is to provide a âÄúreal-time snapshotâÄù of each team’s academic performance. The scores are out of 1,000 and the average score for University teams was about 979 during 2007-08. All of the Big Ten APR statistics will be released Wednesday, but the University announced the numbers Friday, the day before a Star Tribune story on the topic ran. For the 2009 season, the football program will only be able to recruit 82 players, instead of the usual 85, Joel Maturi, University athletics director, said. This will not impact recruiting in the long term, as long as the program scores above a 925 next year, Garry Bowman, spokesman for the athletics department, said. This appears likely, based on the football programâÄôs fall semester APR of 957, he said. âÄúI think they are back on the upswing and headed in the right direction,âÄù Bowman said. Wrestling also performed below the minimum level, but will not be penalized. The wrestling score fell from 944 to 919 last year, but the multi-year rate was still 926, just above the minimum. But Maturi said âÄúitâÄôs not all a response to doing poorly academically.âÄù âÄúWe have a football program that is in transition,âÄù Maturi said. âÄúA great majority of points that we have lost is because kids didnâÄôt return.âÄù The APR is determined by awarding points for eligibility and retention for each student-athlete on scholarship during the academic year. In 2007, several players left the team between the transition from former coach Glen Mason to current coach Tim Brewster. âÄúThere were a number of kids who felt that they werenâÄôt going to fit in with the new team,âÄù Bowman said. Several more players left after BrewsterâÄôs first year, and four players were dismissed from the program in the wake of a 2007 campus sexual assault. Aside from wrestling and football, about 19 other University teams met or exceeded an APR multi-year score of 965, ranking among âÄúhigh-performing teamsâÄù in the NCAA. The Gophers womenâÄôs tennis team scored a perfect multi-year score of 1,000, while about nine other teams received a perfect score for the 2007-08 season. âÄúWe are not pleased that the football team is being sanctioned, but at the same time we are very appreciative of the success of the sports that are, in many ways, being honored,âÄù Maturi said.