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Jan 19, 2015 02:46 PM EST

University of California Coaches' Pay Linked to Athletes' Academics

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Newly hired coaches and athletic directors at University of California campuses will receive bonuses based on the academic performance of athletes on their team.

Under a new policy beginning Thursday, coaches and others who make money from students' athletic performances will now have financial incentives to "ensure that academic performance is also up to par," The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Even if they have athletic-related bonuses in their contract, they will not be paid unless academic requirements are met. The new policy was approved by university President Janet Napolitano and made public Friday.

The new policy applies to new and renewed contracts for coaches and athletic directors across the university's nine undergraduate campuses. Each University of California campus will need to "establish a minimum level of academic performance that teams must maintain in order for coaches (and athletic directors) to be eligible to receive any -- academic or athletic -- performance incentive awards," according to The San Francisco Chronicle. This "gatekeeper clause" will follow a formula the National Collegiate Athletic Association already uses to monitor student athletes.

The policy is significant because, until now, coaches' pay had been tied only to athletic performance, and there had been no financial incentive for the coaches to ensure students' academic success. But classroom failure among athletes at UC could no longer be ignored after a national report in 2013 revealed that UC Berkeley's football and men's basketball teams had the lowest graduation rates in the country among intercollegiate teams.

According to Inside Higher Ed, newly hired coaches and athletic directors will be judged only after three years "so that they are not punished for prior coaches' inattention to their students' academic performance."

The new policy was implemented because classroom failure among student athletes enrolled in the University of California system could no longer be ignored after a national reported released two years ago revealed UC Berkeley's football and men's basketball teams had the lowest graduation rates in the country among intercollegiate teams.

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