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UConn qualifies academically for postseason

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's men's basketball team, which was barred from the 2013 postseason because of past problems with its Academic Progress Rate, has qualified academically for next year's NCAA tournament.

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The Huskies APR for the 2011-12 school year is 947 out of 1000, giving it a two-year score of 962.5, which meets the NCAA's standard.

Under rules implemented in 2011, the NCAA requires a team to have a 900 average over four years or a 930 over two years to qualify for its postseason.

The team's four-year APR of 897 is still lower than the NCAA goal.

The team scored a 978 out of 1000 in 2010-11, the season it won its third NCAA Championship, after two years of scores in the low 800s.

Warde Manuel, the school's athletic director, said he is proud of team's academic effort, especially because they were penalized for problems that predated their enrollment at the university.

``These kids didn't get down on themselves,'' he said. ``They didn't stop performing on the court and they didn't stop performing academically, and that is a credit to those kids.''

UConn went 20-10 on the court during the 2012-13 basketball season and likely would have been an NCAA tournament team. But it was barred from both the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament based on the APR scores from the 2007-08 through 2010-11 academic years.

The school's four-year score last year was 889 and its two-year average was just 902.

Over the past several years, the program put into places changes in an effort to boost the scores. Those include mandated sanctions for any player who misses three or more classes during the academic year and daily checks of course work for student-athletes who have a grade-point average of 2.3 or lower.

Players also are required to attend at least nine hours of summer school each year and adhere to a ``graduation plan'' created to ensure each player is on a path to graduate, even if they leave school early for the NBA or other opportunities.

``The players really took pride in saying, `This is not us. We are student-athletes in the true sense of the word','' said Manuel. ``They have showed that a one-year ban in the past is not a real indicator of how much they really focus on their academics as well as their athletics. That's the thing that made us, internally, happiest.''

Manuel said coach Kevin Ollie has also made it clear to recruits that academics will be a priority, and the school has every reason to believe the APR scores will not be a problem in the future.

``All of the student athletes that are coming in, as well as the current student athletes understand the strong sense of focus we have on the academic side here,'' he said.

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