"This is about the academic performance of all our students in all our sports," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in announcing the decision. "This is about the academic expectations we have for all our student-athletes."
The announcement came at the end of a meeting of college presidents, who have the final say in the workings of the NCAA but who seldom have acted as a group to make policy.
The NCAA keeps track of academic progress made by scholarship athletes through what is known as the academic progress rate. That rate is expressed by a number, and until now a school did not face penalties unless that number was below 900.
Thursday's vote increased the number to 930 and it was announced that a school falling below that number would be ineligible for post-season competition, including college bowl games.
The 930 academic progress rate equates to roughly a 50 percent graduation rate among athletes.