Tougher standards catching more players

Originally Published: January 21, 2005
By Andy Katz | ESPN Insider
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NCAA membership wanted more accountability from one semester to the next instead of just from one year to another.

That's why you're seeing more players getting clipped by a new rule that went in last season where if a player doesn't pass at least six hours in the first semester then he wouldn't be eligible for the second semester.

Texas sophomore forward P.J. Tucker, the Longhorns' leading scorer, is gone for the rest of the season because of the rule. So, too, is Memphis sophomore Sean Banks. Virginia also lost senior Jason Clark for the rest of the season due to academics.

That never used to happen. Seniors rarely got nailed for academic reasons once the school year started.

That's not the case anymore.

But it doesn't mean an underclassman can't get eligible the following season.

Connecticut's Marcus Williams is a perfect example. The freshman guard fell prey to the rule last year, probably the highest profile player last year that wasn't eligible for the second semester.

Williams is back with the Huskies this season, starting at the point. To get eligible, he had to pass a total of 18 credit hours in the two semesters, a total of 24 for the year (that includes summer and intersession).

Williams wasn't allowed to travel to road games or sit on the bench. But he could practice. He was allowed to stay on scholarship.

Tucker will have the same rules to abide by this semester and he's expected to still be a member of the program and return next season if he can get his academics in order. Banks might not do that since Memphis coach John Calipari says he'll likely declare for the NBA Draft. Calipari said he thinks Banks is heading back to New Jersey. He said he tried to get him down with John Lucas in Houston to work out (and to work on his mind).

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer