Logan Wilson is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com.
All UA sports exceed NCAA benchmark
Jeff Long has overseen a change in academic culture for UA athletes.
FAYETTEVILLE All 19 teams within the University of Arkansas athletics program exceeded the Academic Progress Rate multi-year benchmark for the first time since the program's creation, the NCAA announced Tuesday.
Arkansas also had a school-record five teams earn NCAA Public Recognition Awards. Men's golf, men's tennis, gymnastics, swimming and diving, and volleyball all scored perfect 1,000 multi-year APR rates to earn the awards, which recognizes teams in the top 10 percent academically within their respective sport. As a whole, Arkansas posted its best overall multi-year score in the APR with the Razorbacks averaging a 974.7, more than four points better than the previous high score.
"I'm proud of our coaches, academic staff and most important our student-athletes for the continued record-setting progress we are making in APR," Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long said. "For the first time, all 19 of our sports programs have exceeded the APR benchmark while establishing the best multi-year rate in the history of our program. A record five teams earned public recognition awards while a large majority of our programs either maintained or improved their APR numbers. We will continue to focus our efforts on helping Razorback student-athletes on the path to graduation and fulfilling our mission of developing student-athletes to their fullest potential through intercollegiate athletics."
What is APR?
Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible each semester. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by one thousand to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate score. A perfect score is 1,000.
Seven Arkansas sports programs recorded multi-year scores of 992 or better, which included a score of 995 by the women's soccer team and a 992 by the women's golf team. Thirteen of the 19 teams improved or maintained their multi-year APR rate.
Graduation rates for athletes at the university is up to 53 percent, just below the 59 percent clip for the entire student body.
“I think in general, when you think about college athletics, the vast majority of the kids that play sports are going to school and playing sports," said Jon Fagg, the UA senior associate athletics director for compliance and student-athlete services. "They have no intention of becoming professional athletes in any manner, whatsoever, and I think that’s a testament that we are recruiting the right kind of kids. They’re coming to school, they’re happy at Arkansas and they are graduating from Arkansas. So I think that’s a great testament to our coaches and to the kids for following through. We have a really strong culture within our program."
The APR benchmark is set at 930, which is up from the 925 that it was for the 2010-11 academic year. This year's APR multi-year scores are based on four total academic years, beginning in the fall of 2008 and ending in the spring of 2012.
In order for all 19 sports to exceed the benchmark, the men's basketball team made a 57-point jump in its multi-year score. With the addition of a score of 977 during the 2011-12 academic year and dropping a 755 score from 2007-08, the basketball team increased its multi-year rate to 951.
With every team able to avoid any penalties, like the scholarship-loss penalty the men's basketball team has already served, Fagg said he hopes to see the Razorbacks' success within the APR program maintain and even continue to increase.
"I’m a big believer in culture," Fagg said. "I think making individual decisions is difficult - I call them team decisions. Making team decisions don’t translate into long-term success, but making program decisions does. We’ve been making program decisions academically. We set out, when Jeff got here, to renew the culture and I think that’s showing that that’s been successful. We continue to plow forward and make those incremental gains with the APR. I think we’re confident that those other rates, graduation rates and graduation success rates, are going to follow when the time comes.
"We’re still a year or so away from those things showing up on our watch, but it just feels fantastic. We’re so excited for our kids and our coaches."
University of Arkansas Multi-Year APR Scores
Baseball - 964
Men's Basketball - 951
Women's Basketball - 945
Men's Cross Country - 975
Women's Cross Country - 977
Football - 938
Men's Golf - 1,000
Women's Golf - 992
Gymnastics - 1,000
Soccer - 995
Softball - 966
Swimming - 1,000
Men's Tennis - 1,000
Women's Tennis - 984
Men's Indoor Track - 958
Women's Indoor Track - 964
Men's Outdoor Track - 949
Women's Outdoor Track - 962
Volleyball - 1,000