SAN FRANCISCO – The academic performance of student athletes will be a factor in how coaches and athletic directors at University of California campuses are evaluated and compensated under a new policy approved by university President Janet Napolitano and made public Friday.
The incentive-pay policy scheduled to be discussed by the university's governing board on Wednesday holds that athletic directors and coaches with winning records will be ineligible for bonuses unless their teams maintain a minimum level of academic achievement based on how many students receiving athletic scholarships remain in school with a full-time course load while maintaining a 2.0 grade point average.
It was developed by a committee Napolitano created in September to address concerns over low graduation rates for the football, men's basketball and six other teams at UC Berkeley
Currently, only Berkeley's head football coach, Sonny Dykes, works under a contract that links his future bonuses to how well his players perform off the field over four years. Because Dykes is only in his second year at Cal, the provision has not yet been part of his annual performance review.
The new policy will apply to all coaches of intercollegiate sports and athletic directors going forward, both new hires and those whose contracts are up for renewal. The so-called "gatekeeper clause" establishing a minimum level of team-wide academic performance for coaches to receive any bonus pay will follow a formula the National Collegiate Athletic Association already uses to monitor student athletes.
The NCAA's Academic Progress Rate assigns athletes points every academic term they stay school and maintain their academic eligibility through a combination of course load and GPA. The maximum number of points a team can earn based on a four-year average is 1,000. The UC committee has set 930 as the minimum threshold teams must reach for their coaches to earn bonuses.
A chart provided to UC's Board of Regents in advance of its Wednesday discussion shows that most of the university's Division I teams had a rate well above that minimum as of the 2012-13 school year. Only the men's basketball team at UC Riverside fell below that benchmark. Meanwhile, the football and men's basketball teams at Berkeley, the men's cross-country team at Davis, the women's basketball team at Riverside, and the men's basketball, golf and soccer teams at Santa Barbara had scores below 940.
In addition to making all bonuses contingent on academics, the policy also gives campuses the option of offering additional incentive pay to coaches and athletic directors based on the six-year graduation rates of their teams.
UC Berkeley physics professor Bob Jacobsen, who served on the committee, told the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1CaXyde ) that the dollar value of such academic incentives would need to be low compared with bonuses based on athletic prowess so students who are struggling with their studies are given help instead of kicked off their teams.
"These kinds of incentives are still very small compared to the incentive to win," Jacobsen said.