Aug. 5, 2010

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

Marking another milestone in its academic reform efforts, the NCAA today released single-year Academic Progress Rates for Division I head coaches in six sports, including football and basketball.

Created by the Committee on Academic Performance at the behest of the Division I Board of Directors, the database is designed to create more transparency in the Academic Performance Program and strengthen the accountability of coaches for the academic performance of their student-athletes.

The Head Coach APR Portfolio this year includes baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field. It does not assess additional penalties for a team or coach.

NCAA Interim President Jim Isch said the new Head Coach APR Portfolio is not meant to single out coaches but instead highlight the critical role they play in the development of their student-athletes athletically and academically.

“The vast majority of coaches are doing very well, and they take their roles as educators very seriously,” Isch said.

Committee on Academic Performance chair Walter Harrison, president at Hartford, said the Head Coach APR Portfolio is necessary because coaches are the “primary influencers” of their student-athletes.

“They already are held accountable for success on the field or court. These rates extend that transparency and accountability to the classroom, as well,” he said. “The perception is that head coaches don’t care about academics. That isn’t true. I know from my work with the NCAA baseball and men’s basketball academic working groups that head coaches deeply understand the importance of academics.”

Harrison acknowledged that many different people on campus – most notably the student-athletes themselves – influence academic performance. However, the coaches not only recruit the student-athletes to their institutions but also have the closest relationship with individual student-athletes of any other adult at a college or university.

The Head Coach APR Portfolio includes the single-year team APR for head coaches at each institution he or she has been a head coach, along with the average single-year APR in the specific sport for comparison purposes. Interim head coaches are not included in the database.

Hiring and separation dates for each institution at which a person held a head coaching position are also included on each coach’s page, and years in which a coaching change occurred are indicated in each individual report.

Any head coach who is in place at any point during an academic year (August 1-July 31) is assigned that team’s APR for that year. For example, if a coach left a program six weeks into an academic year, the APR for that team for that year is still noted on his or her report, and it also appears on the report of the coach that was hired as a replacement. However, any such “transitional” years are clearly noted on the coach’s page.

Other information, including penalty benchmarks and a link to more information about penalties, is available. Data extend to 2003-04, the first year APR data was collected.  The database is searchable by the coach’s name, sport, institution or year.

The six sports for which data are available were chosen based on the national APR profile for that sport, the opportunity to test technical issues within the system and a diverse mix of large and small teams, as well as team and individual sports (see the accompanying chart for most recent single-year APRs for each of the six sports included in this article). The system will be expanded to all Division I sports after the 2010-11 academic year.

Coaches were provided the opportunity to review their employment dates but do not have the ability to appeal APR information included on the site. Appeals must be filed by an institution through the regular Academic Performance Program process.