New football policy: Miss classes, miss games
Continuing an effort to improve the academic performance of USF's athletes, a new attendance policy for Bulls football will call for a game suspension after a fifth unexcused missed class in any semester.
"We need to make sure our students realize it's crucial they attend every class when they're not traveling for competition," said Amy Haworth, USF's associate athletic director for academics. "The correlation between (attendance and academic success) is so high. There has always been an expectation, but the policy came as we continue to raise standards and raise expectations."
USF football has specific incentive to improve its academic performance, as the Bulls had the lowest Academic Progress Rate score of any BCS football program last year and barely avoided penalties from the NCAA. The APR weighs retention as much as academic eligibility, and much of USF's problems stem from high turnover as the Bulls moved to the Big East in 2005; that year won't count toward the APR's four-year window in next year's scores, and USF has already anticipated a substantial rise in its football APR score.
Other USF teams already have similar policies in place, including the potential for suspension for games, and Haworth said USF's men's basketball team will institute its own policy for the fall semester.
A football player's first three unexcused absences in any class in a semester do not carry specific penalties, but coaches and administrators are notified and the coach has the discretion to use extra running or sessions with an academic counselor. A fourth unexcused absence means a player will miss a practice, and each subsequent absence will result in suspension from a football game.
"From the outside, I realize the implementation of an attendance policy may seem as if it were in response to excessive absences, but that wasn't the case," Haworth said. "It's really just our desire to continue to get better as a program."
-- Bleacherreport.com has its Big East preview out, picking USF to go 6-1 in the league to finish first and earn a BCS berth in the Orange Bowl. Their projection also includes USF getting a home win against Miami (but losing at Florida State) as part of a 10-2 regular-season record.
-- Soccer post! USF has had a great pipeline from Trinidad and Tobago, and according to this story in the Trinidad Express, the Bulls have another talented player coming in January in midfielder Leston Paul, a member of the under-20 national team and former captain of Trinidad's u-17 team.
-- Another story of season ticket sales being down, as Rutgers has sold tickets to just 35 percent of a 12,000-fan waiting list that was used as the basis for an 11,412-seat stadium expansion, according to the Star-Ledger. Rutgers is offering a ticket mini-plan with all four Big East games starting at $160.
-- The News and Sentinel in West Virginia, running through each of the Mountaineers' opponents, has a USF preview posted as well.
-- Former USF cornerback Mike Jenkins, entering his second season with the Cowboys, has changed his jersey number and his official site has moved as well. Jenkins, once at MikeJenkins31.com, is now settled in at MikeJenkins21.com.
-- I'm heading up to St. Augustine with the family to see my sister, so you won't likely see another post until Sunday. Enjoy the weekend ...