INDIANAPOLIS -- NCAA president Myles Brand wants college teams concerned as much about academic scores as final scores. If they aren't, they might be barred from NCAA tournaments.
Brand warned the underachievers Tuesday they could get hit with the NCAA's harshest sanctions -- fewer scholarships, reductions in practice and even a postseason ban. Nearly 150 teams face potential scholarship losses and another 26 are on the brink of a postseason ban because of poor academics.
Brand was mostly pleased with what he saw in the report. Overall scores improved by four points since the NCAA began collecting data in 2003. Scores are also up in 26 of 29 sports over the last four years, and fewer teams were penalized than even NCAA officials expected last year.
There was plenty of reason for concern, too.
More than 700 of the 6,272 Division I teams fell short of the mandated cut score of 925 to avoid penalties, and 218 were assessed punishments ranging from warning letters to reductions in practice times. But the 26 teams that have now scored less than 900 in two consecutive years must improve now. Among those teams are Fresno State men's basketball, Sacramento State football, and a trio of San Jose State teams (football, men's cross country, men's soccer).
A third consecutive score below 900 would keep them out of NCAA tournaments in 2009-10, and a fourth year in a row on the list could lead to having Division I status revoked.
Track and Field
A federal judge denied bond for former track star Tim Montgomery on federal heroin distribution charges. Montgomery appeared in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Va., and pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested a jury trial, which the judge set for July 9. The former 100-meter world-record holder was arrested last week on a sealed indictment accusing him of dealing more than 100 grams of heroin in Virginia.
The trainer of Eight Belles is certain the filly was never on steroids, and has ordered tests to prove it. Larry Jones said he wanted to dispel any suggestion the Kentucky Derby runner-up was on performance-enhancing drugs. Eight Belles was euthanized after breaking both front ankles Saturday, a quarter-mile after the finish at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
NFL Network filed its complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against cable TV giant Comcast. The two sides have been feuding over Comcast's decision to place NFL Network on a premium sports tier that customers must pay extra to receive while the cable company includes less-popular national sports channels it owns, Versus and Golf Channel, on a basic tier. ... Former Cincinnati receiver Chris Henry will be released from court-ordered electronic monitoring and house arrest so he can try out for another NFL team.
The new Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, will be among five venues for next year's Confederations Cup, a test tournament for organizers of the 2010 World Cup. The United States is one of eight teams that will play in the tourney, which runs June 14-28.
Serena Williams won her 16th match in a row, defeating Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of the German Open in Berlin. Williams is chasing her fourth consecutive WTA title. ... Roger Federer got by one of his most challenging opponents, defeating Guillermo Canas 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the Rome Masters. Federer is now 3-3 against Canas.
Dany Heatley scored the winning goal with 46.8 seconds remaining to lift Canada to a 5-4 victory over the United States at the world hockey championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In other games, Russia defeated Denmark 4-1, Czech Republic routed Italy 7-2, and Latvia blanked Slovenia 3-0.
Larisa Ilchenko of Russia won her fifth consecutive 5-kilometer gold at the open water swimming championships in Seville, Spain. Thomas Lurz of Germany defended the men's title for the fourth year in a row.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, the defending Olympic beach volleyball gold medalists and the top-ranked qualifiers for the Beijing Games, withdrew from this weekend's AVP tournament to allow Walsh to rest her surgically repaired shoulder.
Tour de France organizers will stick by their ruling to bar 2007 champion Alberto Contador and his Astana team from this year's race despite the Giro d'Italia's decision to let them enter the Italian event.
WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev (24-1) has a viral infection, forcing postponement of his May 31 heavyweight fight against Nikolai Valuev (48-1).
Seattle center Janell Burse, runner-up for the WNBA's Most Improved Player award in 2006, will miss the season due to multiple injuries.