The NCAA has released the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) rankings and Minnesota is looking pretty good overall. Per the U, the Gophers had 11 programs post perfect (1000) scores for their multi-year APR's in 2014-2015. Additionally, 18 of the U's programs either maintained or improved their multi-year APR scores and all 25 programs are above the 930 "cut line" for NCAA penalties. The Football program continued to improve but the basketball program took a major step back. More on both of those teams in just a minute.
What is the APR?
The APR, or Academic Progress Rate, holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.
Here's how the NCAA gives each team both their single year and multi-year scores:
- Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
- A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
- In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.
Essentially the APR system rewards schools that keep their players eligible for an entire academic year. Schools can get "partial credit" if a player stays in school for a full year but is only academically eligible during one of the semesters or if the team has a player who completes only one semester but leaves while academically eligible (e.g. to transfer to another school, to enter a professional draft, etc).
To help minimize the impact of a single bad APR year, the NCAA uses a 4 year average to determine if a program is eligible for penalties. For example, the 2014-2015 multi-year APR scores include data for the 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. Any team that scores under a 930 is eligible for NCAA penalties (which vary depending on the severity of the APR issues and how many years the program has been below the "cut line").
This isn't a perfect measure and there are many valid critiques of both the method of scoring used as well as application of penalties. For example, Kentucky basketball currently boasts a perfect 1000 multi-year APR score. This may surprise you given the number of Kentucky players who get drafted each season. To avoid potential APR penalties UK makes sure it's players complete the Spring semester as eligible. Since these players don't have to stay on course for graduation it allows UK a lot of leeway to put draft bound players into easy Spring semester courses to assure UK get's full points for that academic year. There is nothing shady or underhanded about this, it simply highlights some of the flaws inherent in the APR system.
Here's how the two most prominent Minnesota programs have fared since 2008-2009 (the first year single year APR scores were made available)
|Year||MBB: Multi-Yr||MBB: Single Yr||FB: Multi-Yr||FB: Single Yr|
Football Sets APR Record
The biggest news to come out of the report was the continued APR excellence of the football program. The program now has a multi-year APR score of 992. That's good enough to be tied for third best in all of Division 1 and is a new school record!
The program *only* scored a 988 for the most recent single year APR after 3 straight years of 994 APR scores. Before you feel concerned, it's worth noting that a 988 is the second best single season score that the football team has ever posted and it is still good enough to be one of the best in the country for the 2014-2015 academic year.
This is nothing but good news for Minnesota Football and it's extremely impressive given the struggles that both Glen Mason and Tim Brewster had with maintaining qualifying APR scores.
Men's Basketball Needs To Improve
The news is less rosy for the Coach Pitino. The basketball team scored a terrible 860 for the 2014-2015 academic year, which pulled the program's multi-year APR down to 960. Considering men's basketball had posted perfect 1000 scores in both Tubby's last year and Pitino's first, this is a disappointment. This doesn't portend immediate doom and gloom for the Gophers since the 2015-2016 multi-year APR will still include two perfect scores.
The bigger issue is that a score this bad (860 is by far the worst in program history) means that the margin for error in future years shrinks considerably. The program will need to average at least a
Positive news for everyone else
We don't want to short the other programs at the U having APR success. Here are a couple fun facts from all the other programs:
- 14 Gopher programs were just honored with APR Public Recognition Awards for scoring in the top 10 percent in each sport based on their most recent multiyear APR.
- 14 Minnesota programs scored a perfect 1,000 for the 2014-15 single year APR score.
Here's the full list of men's and women's programs with their scores.
|Team||Multi-Year APR||2014-2015 Only|
|Track & Field||993||994|
|Team||Multi-Year APR||2014-2015 Only|
|Track & Field