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Academic progress high for bowl-bound teams

Academic progress high for bowl-bound teams

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) A study of the 70 schools selected for college football bowl games this season showed football teams maintained high recent academic progress, but the gap between African-American and white players persists.

The annual report released Monday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport showed overall Graduation Success Rate improvement from 68 to 69 percent for football players at the bowl-bound schools.

Also, 97 percent of schools received a score higher than the target 925 (equal to an expected graduation rate of 50 percent) on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. Teams with a four-year APR of 925 or below face penalties including loss of scholarships. A new APR standard of 930 started to take effect for the 2012-13 academic year, though it won't be fully in place until 2014-15.

Primary study author Richard Lapchick said he thinks the recent awareness raised by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and NAACP President Ben Jealous has been instrumental in pushing schools to make academic progress by athletes a priority.

``I think the threat of the loss of scholarships has great meaning for coaches today,'' Lapchick said. ``Even with football teams being so much bigger than in basketball, coaches want to protect those slots. They have become more engaged themselves and are getting the resources into academic affairs to get students who maybe weren't as engaged in high school to be more successful at their universities.''

This year's numbers show a 20 percentage point gap between the graduation rate of white and African-American athletes, 82 percent to 62 percent. The numbers were 81 and 61 percent last year. But Lapchick is encouraged that the rate for African-American athletes has risen consistently recently.

As recently as 2009, those rates were 58 percent for African-American and 77 percent for white athletes.

``There are a few perspectives on that gap,'' Lapchick said. ``Graduation rates have significantly gone up annually a few points each year, and that's the good news.''

Lapchick noted that across the NCAA, African-American football players graduate at higher rates than male African-American students as a whole. Another study released Monday, though, found less success by that measure among schools in the six BCS automatic qualifying conferences.

The report from the Penn Graduate School of Education Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education looked at all athletes at those schools, not just football players. Using federal graduation rates, it found that at those schools, 50.2 percent of African-American male athletes graduated within six years, compared with 55.5 percent of African-American undergraduate men.

The GSR measures graduation rates of Division I schools after four years and includes students transferring into the institutions. The GSR also allows schools to subtract athletes who leave before graduation, as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete if they remained.

At the bowl-bound schools, 66 of 70, or 94 percent, had at least a 50 percent GSR for their football teams. That's down from 97 percent in 2011, though Lapchick praised the high figure.

While the racial gap is a complex issue, Lapchick said, small things can make a difference.

``I think you continue to apply as many resources as you can, but (universities) also have to engage the public school systems where they are,'' he said. ``Now you see student-athletes volunteering in their communities, which is something that hasn't always been the case.

``If those resources were directed at middle schools and elementary schools, then their leadership could help young people at those schools and inspire them to plot an academic course for their future so that they will have more opportunities.''

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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