What Nick Fazekas leaving school early means for Nevada

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Friday April 6, 2007.

The news that hit the RGJ last night about Nevada forward Nick Fazekas withdrawing from classes to focus on getting in shape for the NBA draft brings up a question or two about the impact on the Nevada basketball team.

The facts

Because of a new NCAA rule, schools can be penalized with the stripping of scholarships if they do not retain players and keep them academically eligible. It’s not entirely clear, however, exactly how that rule will apply in Fazekas’ situation.

Teams competing under the NCAA are rated using a measurement called Academic Progress Rate. APR is calculated based on two things – athlete eligibility and athlete retention. It’s calculated like this:

Every student-athlete contributes up to two points per semester or quarter: one point for being enrolled and one point for being on track to graduate. The total points earned are divided by the total possible points. A 13-member basketball team, for example, could earn 52 points at a semester-based school. If the team earns 47 points, that’s 90.3%, a score of 903. A one-time bonus point is earned when an athlete graduates. A team can be subject to penalties if its score is below 925, a figure the NCAA calculates as a predictor of a 60% graduation rate1.

Nevada has yet to hit the threshold of 925, but has not been penalized due to what’s called “squad-size adjustment.” Squad-size adjustment offers teams with smaller rosters an adjustment based on the smaller sample size of the data. For that reason, Nevada’a score of 917 has not negatively affected the team to this point. It does not mean that the team is not at risk2.

So what does Fazekas’ departure mean, if anything, for Nevada? Considering that Nevada has 13 players on scholarship, they have a possible 26 points per semester. Beginning in Fall 2006, with Fazekas leaving early in the Spring, the team’s APR would look like this:

Semester Total Possible Actual Total APR
Fall 26 253 962
Spring 26 244 923
Total 52 49 942

From the preliminary look of things, Fazekas’s leaving might have no impact at all on Nevada.

My opinion

Considering what the above numbers say, I can’t criticize Nick for leaving his classes behind to work out. He gave four years to Nevada on the court and those four years afforded him the opportunity to play basketball and get paid a lot of money for doing so.

Without question, what Nick did by leaving could have an impact on the team’s future. If Marcelus Kemp happens to also withdraw and enter the draft, then we’ll see a few problems. I doubt that will happen, just based on some of the stuff I’m hearing (he’ll declare for the draft, no doubt, but he isn’t leaving classes). Even if Marcelus did decide to leave now, neither player could be blamed for causing the team problems. Sure, they could stay simply because the school needs them to do so, but neither is in a position to rest on their current abilities and get big money. They both need to impress teams further to earn a huge contract.

More problems could arise if players wind up ineligible. That would also bring this decision into play. But there are far larger problems with the program if players are ineligible. Sending a player off to the NBA is an opportunity that so many schools never have. But keeping players eligible is critical to having any success at all in the college game. There is no indication that players will be ineligible, but it’s always possible. Until we see that happen, I don’t have a whole lot to complain about.

1 Q&A on APR from USAToday

2 Squad-size adjustment from the NCAA

3 Demarshay Johnson was ineligible in the fall

4 Accounts for Fazekas leaving early

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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