Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Academic Progress Rate:
Multiyear scores meet expectations
Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long listens to introductions before his keynote speech at the Little Rock Touchdown Club September 16, 2013 at the Embassy Suites Little Rock.
FAYETTEVILLE University of Arkansas officials are happy with multiyear NCAA academic progress rate (APR) scores released Wednesday.
All of the university's 19 athletic programs finished above the NCAA's benchmark score of 930 for the second consecutive year, with three programs - men's golf, women's golf and volleyball - recording a perfect score of 1,000. The latest multiyear scores reflect academic results for the school year beginning in the fall of 2009 and ending in the summer of 2013.
"I'm proud of our coaches, our student-athlete success staff and most importantly our student-athletes for their dedication to academic achievement," Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long said in a statement.
Notable multiyear scores at Arkansas included 935 for football, 937 for men's basketball, 936 for women's basketball and 964 for baseball. In addition to the three sports that received perfect scores, Razorbacks gymnastics, soccer, swimming and men's tennis finished in the 70th percentile or above among all NCAA athletic programs.
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.
APR is a calculation of academic eligibility and retention rates for players on athletic scholarships. Each scholarship athlete receives one point for being academically eligible and one point for retention each semester.
Graduates and players who leave school early to pursue a professional career don't penalize a program's APR score unless they leave in poor academic standing. Players who transfer to other schools don't penalize the APR score if they have a grade point average of 2.6 or above.
Consecutive years below the NCAA benchmark can result in penalties, including NCAA postseason bans and loss of scholarships. Several coaches and administrators receive bonuses for meeting APR requirements.
"The culture has definitely shifted," said Jon Fagg, the university's senior athletics director for compliance. "I think there were a lot of people skeptical of what APR would be when it first started. It started off on a little shaky footing the first year or so in kind of defining and honing in on what we really wanted. Now I think it's a really useful tool. We use it all the time. Our coaches ask us, 'What is this (move) going to do to our APR? A kid wants to leave, I'm thinking about telling a kid maybe they're not in the future plans, what does that do to us?'
"The thing that APR does for us is force our coaches and our administration to talk about academics in a real-time measurable way."