Gonzaga Scores High In NCAA APR Data

May 3, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS - Most Division I sports teams are performing well in the classroom, but some academic challenges remain, the latest NCAA APR data shows.

The most recent multi-year Academic Progress Rates indicate nearly all 6,110 Division I teams are meeting or exceeding the benchmarks for academic performance, said NCAA President Myles Brand. Only 112 teams will be sanctioned for poor performance, while 839 teams are being publicly recognized for APRs in the top 10 percent of each sport.

Gonzaga University fared well in the report with an APR of 982, best among West Coast Conference schools. Of the 839 teams being publicly recognized for their APR, Gonzaga has six - men's cross country, women's cross country, men's outdoor track, women's outdoor track, men's tennis and women's golf. No other WCC school has more than three teams on that list.

"I think this once again shows the commitment we place on winning in the classroom as well as on the field of competition," Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. "I've always said we have a great balance between academic and athletic excellence, and this report reinforces that goal. All of our student-athletes, coaches and support staff are to be commended for what they do academically and athletically to help us prodce the well-rounded student-athlete."

But higher-profile sports such as men's basketball, football and baseball have many teams in danger of sanctions when the NCAA's margin of error, known as the squad-size adjustment, is eliminated next year, Brand added.

"As each year goes by, I am more and more encouraged by how seriously our student-athletes are taking their academic responsibility," Brand said. "But more work is needed, especially when the squad-size adjustments are removed."

According to the most recent data, 44 percent of men's basketball teams, 40 percent of football teams and 35 percent of baseball teams would have posted APRs below 925 and possibly lost scholarships without the squad-size adjustments this year.

Brand said APR trends are moving upward for football and baseball but downward slightly for men's basketball because of decreases in basketball retention rates.

Every Division I sports team calculates its APR each academic year, based on the eligibility, retention and graduation of each scholarship student-athlete. An APR of 925 translates to an NCAA Graduation Success Rate of approximately 60 percent.

Teams that score below 925 and have a student fail academically and leave school can lose up to 10 percent of their scholarships. Known as immediate penalties in the academic reform program, these scholarships can be lost each year and not reawarded until the following year.

The average APR for all Division I student-athletes is 960, according to the latest data, which for most teams is based on three years of academic performance. The average APR for male student-athletes is 950 while the average for female student-athletes is 970.

Men's teams with the highest APRs are fencing (976), followed by gymnastics, ice hockey and water polo (all at 970). Baseball (935), football (931) and basketball (928) posted the lowest average APRs for men's teams.

Women's teams with the highest APRs are crew (984) and field hockey and lacrosse (tied at 983). Women's bowling posted the lowest APR for women's teams at 942.

Historical penalties begin this year as well under the NCAA academic reform program, with public warnings for teams scoring below 900 APR. Continued underperformance could lead to scholarship losses and reductions in practice and playing time when a team posts a 900 APR a second straight year. Third-year historical penalties would restrict postseason competition, and four consecutive years of poor academic performance and APRs below 900 will result in restricted Division I membership for the school's entire athletic department. An APR of 900 translates to a Graduation Success Rate of approximately 45 percent.

Brand stressed teams with APRs below 925 must develop academic improvement plans to address any issues affecting the classroom success of their student-athletes. The NCAA provides educational materials online for institutions to guide them in their planning process, and these materials are distributed to the presidents and chancellors of institutions with teams below the 925 APR cutoff.

Brand pledged the support of the NCAA national office to assist colleges and universities and their teams in the creation and implementation of their academic improvement plans.

"The goal of academic reform is to improve classroom performance and graduate all of our student-athletes," Brand said. "Teams not doing well academically need to begin devising strategies for improvement now."

Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford and chair of the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance, urged Division I college presidents and chancellors to carefully review their institution's APR data.

"It is critical that our presidents and chancellors, who provided the important leadership for academic reform, are aware of the performance of each team on their campus so they can work with their athletic directors and coaches to assist those that are underperforming," Harrison said.

Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, expressed his organization's strong support for academic reform. He added the importance of academic performance was specifically discussed at the NABC's annual convention held in conjunction withthe 2007 Men's Final Four in Atlanta.

"The NABC and its members are strongly committed to the academic success of every basketball student-athlete," Haney said. "It is very important to the health of the game and our student-athletes that coaches improve the performance of our basketball players in the classroom."

Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, emphasized his members' dedication to the academic well-being of Division I football student-athletes.

"Only a small percentage of Division I football players ever get the chance to play their sport as professionals, so it vital that they maintain their obligations as college students while enjoying the privilege of competing in college sports," Teaff said.

Under the academic reform program, the NCAA allows for adjustments to the APR based on whether a student-athlete leaves in good academic standing to play professional sports or for other reasons beyond an institution's control. Teams can also earn bonus points if a student-athlete returns after leaving school and completes his or her degree. In addition, the NCAA grants waivers of scholarship penalties in limited situations based on institutional mission or other extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

APR scores per institution, along with penalties per school and teams receiving public recognition, are available online at htpp://www.ncaa.org.

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