Yesterday's big news in the college sports world was the release of the Academic Progress Rate (APR) numbers for the 2011-2012 academic year. For those who are not familiar with it, the APR system was put in place by the NCAA to force sports teams to improve their academics. Here's how the NCAA describes it:
The Academic Progress Rate (APR) is a term-by-term measure of eligibility and retention for Division I student-athletes that was developed as an early indicator of eventual graduation rates.
Students earn points for their staying enrolled and for being academically eligible. The team total for all players is divided by the total points possible and then multiplied by 1000 to get the APR score for that year. A perfect score is 1000, while teams that fail to score a 925 or better are subject to penalty (such as scholarship reductions or postseason bans). The score is a 4 year rolling average (i.e. they add up the four most recent yearly scores and average them out). So there you go, that's the basics.
Gopher Football APR
This year's APR report brought very good news for the Norwood Teague and the U coaches. While APR scores affect every team in the Gopher athletic department and there is good news to share across the board, I'd like to first focus on football.
You may recall that last year's APR numbers for Minnesota were, well, not good. The 2010-2011 calendar year (i.e. Brewster's last year as head coach) put the Gophers on the edge of NCAA penalties as their rolling average fell to 932. This was bad, as a 929 or below results in a postseason ban and 925 and below can result in scholarship losses.
How did the football team end up there? Tim Brewster had faced sanctions (loss of 3 scholarships) following his first season, but he appeared to turn in around in 2008-2009 with a single year score of 968. Unfortunately the next 2 seasons under Brew were a return to mediocrity, as the '09-'10 score was 928 and the '10-'11 score was 917. This meant that the rolling average never climbed out of the mid to low 930's.
When Coach Kill came in, he immediately called out APR scores (and academics in general) as a major concern and went about rectifying the issue. The result? A single season APR score of 994 for his first year on the job (the 2011-2012 academic year). How great is that number? Not only is that a single season best for Gopher Football, it is one of the best single season APR scores on record since the NCAA made single year APR numbers available in the 2008-2009 APR report. In fact, only 10 teams have tied or beaten that number (a total of 14 times - 6% of the total scores) across the 4 seasons the NCAA has made single year APR's available. Those teams are:
Boston College: 2011-2012 (APR of 994)
Clemson: 2009-2010 (APR of 994)
Georgia Tech: 2011-2012 (APR of 997)
Kansas: 2010-2011 (APR of 994)
Ohio State: 2010-2011 (APR of 994)
Alabama: 2009-2010 (APR of 994)
Georgia: 2009-2010 (APR of 1000)
The true benefit of the high single season score is that it boosts the football team's 4 year rolling average from last year's 935 to a much more comfortable 955. This number puts the U right at the national average for football, though it only jumps them into a tie for 9th in the Big Ten. This is especially important, as next year's rolling score will consist of 2 scores below 930. This will be a big drag on the overall average, even with the most recent 994. As a result, the Gophers will need to score at least a 981 next year if they want to maintain a 955 rolling average. But if the team's performance in Kill's first season is any indication of what to expect in the future (and the continued good news about the team's GPA suggests that it is), there's a good chance that Gopher Football will continue to climb in the national and B1G APR rankings.
APR For Other Gopher Sports
As I mentioned above, the numbers were solid (in terms of avoiding penalty) to excellent for the remaining U programs.
But this year, the football team had the biggest gain of any athletic program at the university, rising to 955, which ranked tied for ninth in the Big Ten.
The men’s basketball team also posted a 955 APR, which ranked 10th in the Big Ten.
Five Gophers teams received perfect 1,000 scores — baseball, men’s tennis, women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics and women’s soccer.
The men’s hockey team was at 987.
FIU's APR Benefits Pitino
As had been mentioned in other stories, the academic performance (or more accurately, the lack of performance) of the FIU basketball team was a potential boon for the Gopher basketball team. Gopher fans will be pleased to learn that FIU did not disappoint. Their 2011-2012 single season APR was 750 (oof) and the rolling average dropped to 858 (ick). As a result, FIU was slapped with a postseason ban and practice reductions. And before anyone goes silly #TAKES and asks why we hired a guy who screwed FIU over, I'd remind folks that these numbers are pre-Pitino and fall solely on the shoulders of Isiah Thomas.
What does this mean for the Gophers? First off, it means that the team can file a waiver for Malik Smith to be immediately eligble to play at the U. Approval of the waiver isn't a guaranteed, but I've yet to read any analysis suggesting it won't be. This could also set up Minnesota as a natural landing spot for PF Rakeem Buckles, who should also be able to play immediately under the same type of waiver as Smith.
What's your take on the APR?
Do you think Coach Kill and the team can keep it up in the coming years?
Do you think Rakeem Buckles is on his way?
Is your name Glen Mason and do you not care about these numbers at all?