APR REPORT

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INDIANAPOLIS – The scorecards that track classroom performance of Division I sports teams show continued improvement for most squads.

According to the most recent figures, the latest four-year Division I Academic Progress Rate is 970, up three points over last year. The average four-year rate also rose in the high-profile sports of men’s basketball, football and baseball. 

Moving into its eighth year, APR has shifted the national dialogue to the point that even casual college sports fans are aware of it, said NCAA president Mark Emmert.

“For the first time in history of intercollegiate sport, we have a common language and common expectation around academics,” Emmert said. “The expectation is that every program will reach a certain level of academic performance, and that level is important. To this end, the reform effort has been almost immeasurable in its impact.”

Emmert stressed that the NCAA’s academic movement is evolving from reform to expectation of student-athlete academic success.

“So instead of reform, we look to academic success and academic performance as a natural and automatic expectation of being a student-athlete,” Emmert said. “We need to keep working on that performance, just as a team works to improve its athletics performance, so their academics continue to rise as well.”

In the NCAA’s high-profile sports, football’s average four-year APR is 946, up two points over last year; men’s basketball is 945, up five points; and baseball is 959, up five points.

Fewer student-athletes are leaving school ineligible each year, while more than 8,400 student-athletes have returned to campus and earned their degrees in the past seven years.

Every Division I sports team calculates its APR each academic year, based on the eligibility and retention of each scholarship student-athlete. Teams scoring below certain thresholds can face penalties, such as scholarship losses and restrictions on practice and competition. Rates are based on the past four years’ performance.

EIGHT TEAMS FACE POSTSEASON BANS

Based on the most recent APR scores, eight teams are banned from competing in the postseason this coming academic year because of poor performance in the classroom over a number of years.

Of the eight, five are men’s basketball teams: Cal State-Northridge; Chicago State; Grambling; Southern University; and Louisiana-Monroe.

The other three are football teams: Idaho State, Jackson State and Southern University.

In addition, another seven teams faced a postseason ban but received a conditional waiver for this coming year. Waivers can be granted for a variety of reasons but generally include demonstrated academic improvement, active presidential involvement, meeting certain APR benchmarks and implementation of an APR improvement plan.

These teams remain subject to the postseason ban in future years if they do not meet their specific academic performance conditions or implement their academic improvement plans.

Five of the seven are men’s basketball teams: Ball State, Jacksonville State, Morgan State, Southern Utah and UAB. Two teams (Morgan State and Southern Utah) will incur other historical penalties, such as practice restrictions. The other three received full conditional waivers and do not appear on any penalty list.

The other two teams receiving conditional waivers are North Carolina A&T football and UT-Chattanooga women’s soccer. Both still face other historical penalties.

In terms of penalties this year, 103 teams at 67 schools have been sanctioned for poor academic performance. Last year, 137 teams at 80 schools were penalized, and two years ago 177 teams at 107 schools received penalties. There are currently more than 6,400 teams in Division I.

There are 1,143 fewer student-athletes this year who are “0-for-2,” compared to 2004-05, the first year of APR penalties. This term defines student-athletes who leave school academically ineligible and do not earn either point in the APR calculation.

Students considered 0-for-2 account for just 2.4 percent (2,690) of Division I student-athletes and are down almost 30 percent since 2004-05.

In stark contrast, 8,427 former Division I student-athletes have returned to college to earn their degrees in the past seven years. In the process, they earned a bonus point in the APR calculation for their former team.

Almost half of these students – 46 percent – competed in men’s basketball, football and baseball. 

While men’s basketball and football keep improving overall, these sports continue to post the lowest multi-year APRs of all sports. Football in particular saw a slight decline in its single-year rate due to struggles with eligibility.

Recently passed legislation is intended to address football’s eligibility issue. Meanwhile, legislation to address men’s basketball issues continues to be discussed by the Division I membership.

• Also: APR shows drop in football eligibility

The NCAA will work closely with Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well, as they seek to improve the academic performance of their student-athletes.

• Also: Resources crux of HBCU challenges

Looking to the future, the Division I membership is examining how to further strengthen academics in a number of ways, said Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford and chair of the Division I Committee on Academic Performance.

Harrison noted that CAP is recommending moving to a single penalty structure to streamline the process and lead to more improvement from the bottom up. The proposal would set a single benchmark for penalties that correlates to a Graduation Success Rate of at least 50 percent, with the long-term expectation that the rate would increase in the future.

Currently, teams face two cutlines for penalties: 925 for immediate penalties and 900 for historical penalties. The 900 APR cutline for historical penalties would be eliminated.

In addition, the Division I Academic Cabinet is examining adjustments to initial eligibility and transfers from two-year colleges. The Division I Board of Directors later this summer will consider these proposals as a package to strengthen academics.

“Taken together, these elements should enhance our ultimate goal, which is graduation,” Harrison said. “I am not satisfied with all the results, and we have a lot to improve, but I am satisfied we have made enormous progress.”

To ensure fairness in the academic performance program, the NCAA provides adjustments to APR for students who transfer with certain grade point averages and those who leave in good academic standing for professional athletics careers.

This past year, 694 student-athletes were granted APR adjustments for professional departures, out of 6,422 Division I sports teams. Almost half (46 percent) were in baseball. Of the 74 adjustments for men’s basketball, only nine were for first-year college student-athletes.

Teams that score below 925 on their four-year APR and have a student leave school academically ineligible can lose up to 10 percent of their scholarships through immediate penalties. Teams scoring below 900 also can face historical penalties for poor academic performance over time.

This is the sixth year of immediate penalties and the fifth for historical penalties. Teams facing a third year of historically based penalties can be banned from postseason play, in addition to losing more scholarships and incurring practice restrictions from a second year of long-term sanctions.

Institutions can face restricted Division I membership for the entire athletics department if a team has four consecutive years of poor academic performance.

For this year, 103 teams at 67 different colleges and universities have received an immediate or historical sanction.

A total of 55 teams did not earn a 925 APR and had a student-athlete leave school ineligible, and they have lost scholarships. Five teams have lost immediate scholarships and received the first historical penalty (public warning) as well for posting an APR below 900.

Another 16 teams under 900 APR received a public warning; 19 teams received practice restrictions; and eight have received a postseason ban, compared to just one last year. Another seven teams faced a postseason ban but received a waiver. Those teams will need to meet the specific waiver conditions or face the ban in the future.

Last week, 909 teams were publicly recognized for posting multi-year APRs in the top 10 percent of each sport.

The most recent APR scores are multi-year rates based on the scores from the 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

APR scores per institution, along with penalties per school and teams receiving public recognition, are available online through the NCAA’s searchable database.