APR assesses the student side of student-athletes

U of M says it’s proud of its high scores

First of two parts

AnotherViewsquareFifteen of 21 teams from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) now are ineligible for next year’s postseason play because they didn’t meet the NCAA minimum Academic Progress Rates (APR) score.

The NCAA introduced the APR in 2004 as a “real-time snapshot” on how college players are doing in school. Every Division I sports team as a result gets one point for each scholarship athlete each semester staying eligible and one point for staying in school or graduating. The team also gets points for each player who left school, returns, and eventually graduates.

“A student-athlete can earn a maximum of four points during an academic year,” said a University of Minnesota athletics press release.

These points over a four-year period make up the team’s APR — at least 930 are needed to qualify for 2015-16 postseason. If a team doesn’t qualify, they face APR penalties either at Level One (practice restrictions), Level Two (reduced number of contests), Level Three (scholarship reductions and potential multi-year postseason bans), or all three.

“Rates are calculated for teams, not individual students,” explained Michelle Brutlag Hosick, the NCAA’s public and media relations associate director, in an email response to the MSR last week. “It is a team-based metric that tracks whether students stay in school (are retained) and get good grades (remain eligible).”

HBCUs unfortunately dominate the upcoming sports season’s ineligibility lists in football (5) and men’s indoor and outdoor track (four of five). Florida A&M is tops with five teams: men’s indoor track (Level One), wrestling (Level Two), football (Level Three), and no postseason in men’s hoops, men’s cross country, both men’s indoor and outdoor track teams as well as football.

Hosick wrote May 27 in an NCAA.org article that “long-term, non-time based solutions for assisting” limited-resource schools and HBCUs to meet the required benchmarks are being looked into by a committee. But when later asked, Hosick wasn’t able to offer any specifics to us.

Minnesota in last week’s aforementioned press release announced that all 25 teams’ four-year average APRs (2010-14) are above 930, including football (975), women’s basketball (995) and men’s basketball (985). The school “boasted” eight programs with “perfect” APRs of 1,000 — men’s cross country and men’s tennis; and women’s golf, gymnastics, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball.

“The APR is a good indicator” showing how each Gopher sport is doing in the classroom, says Lynn Holleran, U of M’s McNamara Academic Center for Student-Athletes director. “Between 2004 and 2008, we were just on the boundary of 930.”

Now, Holleran proudly pointed out, “We had some of the highest APR single rates for football in the country.”

If we haven’t lost you yet, does all this academic number-crunching, an accountant’s dream, tell the full story? What about a breakdown by race?

“We do not separate the APR by race or ethnicity,” responded Hosick.

However, last week’s NCAA report didn’t seem to have any problem showing that several Black colleges’ and universities’ names are on the bad-school blackboard for the 2015-16 season. A CBS Sports.com article’s first paragraph told readers that four HBCUs “failed to clear the minimum APR multi-year bar of 930 points.”

Then what about Graduation Success Rates (GSR), another NCAA-devised measurement by which schools and universities must report their progress or lack thereof. Hosick told the MSR that the GSR “is a separate metric. Graduation rates are more long-term.”


Next week: a historical look at the GSR

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.