NCAA Adopts Long-Standing Knight Commission Proposal on Academic Threshold for Participation in Postseason Championships

Today, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors adopted a policy requiring teams to meet an academic threshold to participate in any NCAA-sponsored championship or football bowl game. The threshold requires that teams be on track to graduate at least 50 percent of their players. This policy and threshold are consistent with recommendations the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics made in its 2001 and 2010 reports.

William E. Kirwan, co-chairman, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and chancellor, University System of Maryland said, “I’m very pleased to hear that the NCAA Board of Directors took bold action today to adopt the academic threshold for postseason championships. I participated in the NCAA presidential retreat that occurred earlier this week, and was very encouraged by the presidential resolve to act more urgently on policies that are needed to restore integrity in college sports. I congratulate NCAA President Mark Emmert and NCAA Board Chair Judy Genshaft for their leadership at the retreat and with the Board’s action today.”

R. Gerald Turner, co-chairman, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and president, Southern Methodist University, said, “The Knight Commission has consistently said that tournament slots, and the financial rewards that accompany them, should be reserved for teams that meet legitimate academic standards. It’s rewarding to see that our persistence has paid off. Student-athletes will ultimately benefit from a greater emphasis on academic achievement.

“I served on the 2001 Commission that initially advocated for this policy and former Knight Commission co-chairmen William Friday and Theodore Hesburgh deserve credit for their vision.”

In its 2001 report, A Call to Action: Reconnecting College Sports and Higher Education, the Knight Commission advocated that teams be required to graduate 50 percent of their players in order to be eligible for postseason play.

In its June 2010 report, Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values and the Future of College Sports, the Commission reiterated this concept using the NCAA’s new academic metrics designed to predict graduation success of current teams based on retention and eligibility. In that report, the Commission recommended that eligibility for championships be determined at the start of each new academic year and conditioned upon teams achieving an Academic Progress Rate (APR) that predicts at least a 50 percent graduation rate.

Media Inquiries:

For additional information or comments, contact Amy Perko, executive director, Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, 910-551-6809,

About the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics:

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989 in response to more than a decade of highly visible scandals in college sports. The goal of the Commission was to promote a reform agenda that emphasized academic values in a climate in which commercialization of college sports often overshadowed the underlying goals of higher education. More information about the Commission’s history including prior reports can be found at

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit