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Men's notebook

NCAA's Brand downplays online concern

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — NCAA president Myles Brand doesn't see online courses posing any more or less of a danger for academic misconduct than regular classes.

Florida State has recently self-reported that about 60 of its student-athletes were involved in academic misconduct stemming from an online music course.

Brand wouldn't comment specifically about FSU, which is under investigation as a result. He did say he isn't worried that FSU's case isn't the first of many such cases in this era of more online courses offered by schools.

"I don't think the mode of education is the critical issue," he told the St. Petersburg Times on Thursday after his annual state of the NCAA address at the site of the Final Four. "I think the real critical issue is the oversight and monitoring for academic integrity that each institution has for its entire academic program. That's the heart of it, and I wouldn't pick on distributive education as one that's more likely to go wrong."

GOOD SIGN: Brand said the NCAA won't finalize the first Academic Progress Rate numbers that are based on four years worth of data until May, but it's clear there has been improvement.

"Every Final Four team on the four-year APR is above 925," he said. "Three of them are well above it. In fact, one team, the University of North Carolina, for a four-year rate, has a 995. That's remarkable. It really is. It means just one individual over a four-year period, so we're seeing some very high-performing teams academically as well."

A year ago at this time, Brand said as many as 40 percent of the Division I men's basketball programs seemingly would be facing APR sanctions. Now, he said that "approximately 17 percent" of the 341 teams (nearly 60) will be penalized, either by a loss of scholarships or harsher, historical penalties.

FAMILIAR FACE: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo never enjoys facing friends and former assistants, but isn't upset that his former staffer, Tom Crean, moved from Marquette to Indiana.

"I'm happy for him and I hope that I helped him get the job," Izzo said. "He helped me build the thing (as an assistant from 1995-96 through 1998-99) so I'm happy he got it."

He jokingly said he'll only "hate" Crean when the Spartans have to play the Hoosiers during Big Ten play.

TIGER TO WATCH: Talking about how Memphis will replace suspended backup guard Andre Allen, coach John Calipari brought up sophomore Doneal Mack, saying: "My prediction is he will be the difference in this tournament. He will be the guy we're all talking about." A 6-foot-5, 175-pound shooting guard, Mack has 13 points and 15 minutes this tournament, with 10 of each in an opening-round rout.

WALTON LAID UP: Bill Walton won't be in his usual seat at the Final Four cheering on UCLA. The center who starred on John Wooden's national championship Bruins in the early 1970s has been laid up for more than a month because of a pinched nerve in his back and an aching hip. Walton is following the Bruins from his San Diego home. He has been off the air from his ESPN job doing NBA commentary. "Sadly I am down and out," he said. "Go Bruins."

AROUND THE NATION: Bill Grier said he'll remain coach at San Diego rather than pursue the vacant job at Oregon State. The Toreros lost to Western Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. … Western Kentucky athletic director Wood Selig said there was no truth to speculation that Bob Knight would fill the Hilltoppers' coaching opening. … California sophomore forward Ryan Anderson will test his NBA value by declaring for the draft without signing with an agent. He is projected as a borderline first-rounder. … Rick Giles, president of the College Basketball Invitational, said the tournament was a first-year success and plans a similar event next year. Tulsa plays host to Bradley tonight for the title.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

NCAA's Brand downplays online concern 04/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 3, 2008 11:24pm]

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