this will soon be the literal truth, literally
This site has fretted about, then documented the bad things massive attrition under Rich Rodriguez did to Michigan's Academic Progress Rating. The APR is a complicated number that's supposed to equate a 60% graduation rate to 925. Once you drop below that the NCAA starts glaring at you. Michigan put up a 897 in 2010, a 940 in 2009, and a 918 in 2008 (Carr's last year). They need a 945 this year to keep their head above water; that 897 will be an anchor for the next three years.
Right now, dropping below 925 doesn't automatically start hurting you. Between 900 and 925 the only punishments are a one-for-one scholarship reduction for every player who leaves ineligible. This results in yearly complaints about the various schools that didn't meet the minimum but didn't get punished. It's confusing and a little limp-wristed.
That would change if random NCAA committee has its way:
Currently in the Academic Performance Program, teams face two penalty benchmarks – 925 for more immediate penalties and 900 for longer-term, more serious sanctions. The committee is proposing the penalty structure be consolidated, with a single benchmark set at a projected 50 percent GSR. [Ed: this is estimated to be 925-930.]
While the 50 percent GSR is considered a minimum standard, Harrison said the committee also recommends that the long-term goal be stated clearly for the membership to raise the expectations above a projected 50 percent GSR.
Eliminating that grace zone and a lot of the exemptions that go with it is probably a good idea in the wider view. Right now you get things like South Florida dropping under the 925 level, losing ground the next year without penalty (which totally happened but I can't find the relevant link—their numbers are the worst the BCS FWIW), or Kentucky basketball graduating half of the 60% minimum but still checking out A-OK. Right now the APR is weaker than it should be.
In the shorter view, Michigan David Letterman puts his finger under his collar to go "yeeargh" when he reads this proposed penalty for dropping under the 925-ish level that corresponds to a 50% GSR:
Level One: Public notice and a financial aid penalty of 10 percent from the four-year average of total aid awarded. If the team demonstrates improvement, the financial aid penalty would be reduced to 5 percent. For example, a Football Bowl Subdivision team that awards the full complement of scholarships would be penalized nine overall counters and three initial counters at the 10 percent level, while men’s and women’s basketball would be penalized two scholarships.
Hypothetically, not hitting a 925-ish APR results in scholarship penalties equivalent to the worst NCAA sanctions in twenty years. That's level one! If you get to level two you have to eat your own face. Albert Lin writes your obituary if you hit level three.
A change that drastic would have to come with a lot of warning. (I mean, right? /finger under collar) Presumably by then Michigan will have pulled its APR out of the danger zone, at which point they'd be cheering on any NCAA committee itching to rip the spine out of schools not as committed to graduating kids. So… a qualified hurrah with the stipulation this has to be one of those committee-type timelines where it takes forever to do anything.