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Minnesota Basketball: Academic Progress Rate (APR) Concerns - What Happened & What It Means

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After two years of perfection the Gophers posted an all-time low score. How did this happen & will it hurt the team in the future?

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

We talked on Wednesday about the amazing Academic Progress Rate score earned by Gopher Football and the overall great news for the department on the APR front. Unfortunately we were also forced to talk about the less than stellar APR score posted by the men's basketball team:

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.

As I noted in the previous post, this doesn't automatically mean bad things for Gopher men's hoops. However, it does reduce the team's room for error. To better understand if Minnesota is positioned to improve following the low 2014-2015 score, we need to understand why the Gophers received it.

So what happened anyway?

As you might recall from Wednesday's post, the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate is a formula that penalizes programs when two things happen:

- A player is not retained for the following academic term or does no graduate following the spring term

- A player is not academically eligible during an academic term

I'm about to do math, so let me put a TL;DR teaser in right here. Under these metrics having scholarship players leave is bad and having them leave during/after the Fall term is even worse. Since Minnesota lost 2 players in the fall (Josh Martin, Daquein McNeil) and one after the 2014-2015 academic year (Zach Lofton) you can see where the problems might have come from.

NOTE: If you don't care about the math you can skip down a ways until you see the CONCLUSION header.

As already noted, the APR scoring is only done for the full number of scholarship players a team has on roster. Each scholarship player has the ability to earn two points per semester for a total of 4 if they are on scholarship for the whole academic year.*** For basketball, this means the maximum number of points a team could receive (assuming they had all of their scholarships filled during the school year) is 52 points (13 scholarships x 4 points).

Your APR score for the year is determined by totaling up the number of points your scholarship players have earned and then dividing it by the total number of points possible and then multiplying by 1000. Rather than a generic example, let's take a look at the 2014-2015 Gophers and figure out how their score was achieved.

***The NCAA's website only talks about a maximum 2 points per scholarship player using a football example, but there is no scenario where that method produces an APR score of 860 using the NCAA's formula. Since basketball teams are in season across two terms I can only assume that the NCAA records APR results for both terms to score basketball programs.

The Gophers had 12 scholarship players in the fall (Gaston Diedhiou wasn't admitted until the Spring semester). We know that 3 of the players ran into issues or chose to transfer during the fall semester. With Gaston on scholarship to finish the year, the NCAA appears to have counted Minnesota for the full 13 scholarships in the Spring semester (which means Lofton, Martin, and McNeil kept counting against the Gophers in the Spring).

Why do I say that? Because the NCAA has to be counting 50 total points possible for the Gophers. It's the only total point value that would allow the Gophers to score a perfect 860 for the APR. Let me show you what I mean:

Fall Semester

12 (players) X 2 (points) = 24 possible points

Spring Semester

13 (players) X 2 (points) = 26 possible points

24 + 26 = 50 possible points

Points Earned

860 (APR) ÷ 1000 = .860 (NOTE: I'm simply reversing the NCAA's scoring process to get the decimal score)

50 (possible points) X .860 (decimal score) = 43 total points earned

There is no other reasonable earned points/possible points combination that produces a 860 APR score. Based on this and what we know happened to each of the 3 players who left the team, here's my best guess of how the points broke down for the Gophers:

Fall Semester

- 9 players enrolled/eligible; all at MN for Spring semester

9 (players) X 2 (points) = 18 points earned

- Zach Lofton: enrolled/eligible; enrolled at MN for Spring semester

1 (player) X 2 (points) = 2 points earned

- Josh Martin: enrolled/eligible; not enrolled at MN for Spring semester

1 (player) X 1 (point) = 1 point earned

- Daquein McNeil: enrolled/eligible; not enrolled at MN for Spring semester

1 (player) X 1 (point) = 1 point earned

18 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 22 points earned for Fall semester

------------

Spring Semester

- 10 players enrolled/eligible; all return for Fall semester 2015

10 (players) X 2 (points) = 20 points earned

- Zach Lofton: enrolled/eligible; doesn't return for Fall semester 2015

1 (player) X 1 (point) = 1 points earned

- Josh Martin: not enrolled; doesn't return for Fall semester 2015

1 (player) X 0 (points) = 0 points earned

- Daquein McNeil: not enrolled; doesn't return for Fall semester 2015

1 (player) X 0 (points) = 0 points earned

20 + 1 + 0 + 0 = 21 points earned for Spring semester

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Total APR Scoring

22 (Fall points) + 21 (Spring points) = 43 total points earned for 2014-2015

43 (points earned) ÷ 50 (possible points) = .860

.860 X 1000 = 860 APR Score for 2014-2015

It's possible that I'm wrong on how the points were awarded during each semester (I made some assumptions based on best available information and there a probably some alternative options) so if you have additional scenarios I'd love to hear them! Also, if I made any really silly math errors that complete invalidate this whole section please tell me in the comments so I can feel silly.

CONCLUSION: It really, REALLY, hurts when you have players leave your school in the fall. Having a player who is ineligible but enrolled all year (and who is coming back next year) is ok. Having a player dismissed from the team but who stays enrolled and eligible all year is also ok. But a Martin or McNeil scenario is bad when it comes to APR.

Does that mean bad things for this year?

It's easy to hear "losing players hurts your APR" and start to worry about the score for this year. After all, the 2015-2016 Gophers have had one player dismissed (Carlos Morris) and one report that they are transferring (Kevin Dorsey). The good news is that it's not just about players leaving, when they leave and whether they leave or graduate while eligible is also critically important.

Let's try to predict how the Gophers will score with the departures of Morris and Dorsey.

NOTE: Math like things are happening again. Skip to the CONCLUSION header if you don't care about the details.

***Additional #MATHS note...I'm not showing my work this time so just remember that each player is worth a possible 4 points: 1 point each semester for being enrolled/eligible and 1 point each semester for returning the following term or graduating at the end of the year.

The scoring for the Fall term is easy:

Fall Semester

- 12 scholarship players eligible and enrolled at MN for Spring semester = 24 of 24 possible points

Everyone was eligible and stuck around for the Spring. HOORAY! Right off the bat we know things can't be as bad as last year because everyone posted full points in the Fall. But how will the Spring scores look?

Spring Semester - Worst Case Scenario

- 10 players eligible and who enrolled at MN for Fall semester 2015 = 20 points earned

- Carlos Morris: enrolled but retroactively ineligible in Spring and doesn't graduate = 0 points earned

- Kevin Dorsey: enrolled/eligible in Spring and doesn't return = 0 points earned

20 + 0 + 0 = 20 points earned for Spring semester

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Spring Semester - Not Too Bad Case Scenario

- 10 players eligible and who enrolled at MN for Fall semester 2015 = 20 points earned

- Carlos Morris: enrolled/eligible in Spring but doesn't graduate = 1 point earned

- Kevin Dorsey: enrolled/eligible in Spring and doesn't return = 1 point earned

20 + 1 + 1 = 22 points earned for Spring semester

------------

Spring Semester - Best Case Scenario

- 10 players enrolled/eligible; all return for Fall 2016 = 20 points earned

- Carlos Morris: enrolled/eligible in Spring; graduates = 2 points earned

- Kevin Dorsey: enrolled/eligible in Spring; doesn't return for Fall 2016 = 1 point earned

20 + 2 + 1 = 23 points earned for Spring semester

------------

Potential APR Scoring For 2015-2016

Worst Case: 917 APR

Not So Bad Case: 958 APR

Best Case: 979 APR

CONCLUSION: The Gophers should be ok. Based on everything we know, I think the worst case is pretty much impossible. Since there is nothing to suggest the Carlos Morris isn't on track to graduate, the not so bad case can probably be ignored too. That leaves us with our best case scenario and a 979 APR score for the 2015-2016 academic year. This is assuming no one else transfers. If both Diedhiou and Buggs still decide to transfer the score drops to a 938 and if only one of them transfers it would drop to a 958.

Let's try to predict the future

Remember, sanctions are based off the 4 year score, not a single year score. The magic number is an APR of 930. Anything below that and the NCAA drops the hammer. Based on our potential scores for the current academic year, let's see what the 4 year rolling average might be when the 2015-2016 APR scores come out next year.

2012-2013 APR 1000
2013-2014 APR 1000
2014-2015 APR 860
2015-2016 APR #1 938
4 Year Average APR 950

This is the "Best Case" scenario plus both Buggs and Diedhiou transferring. This would leave the Gophers with an even smaller margin of error the following year, especially when you consider that they'll lose one of the perfect scores from the 2016-2017 4 year average.

2012-2013 APR 1000
2013-2014 APR 1000
2014-2015 APR 860
2015-2016 APR #1 958
4 Year Average APR 955

This is the semi-unlikely "Not So Bad" scenario or the "Best Case" scenario plus one more transfer later this off-season. In Wednesday's post, I said the Gophers would need to average at least a 955 over the next 3 years in order to scrape by the 930 cut line. So while not great, this isn't completely terrible either.

2012-2013 APR 1000
2013-2014 APR 1000
2014-2015 APR 860
2015-2016 APR #1 979
4 Year Average APR 960

If the Gophers have no further defections this off-season and Morris and Dorsey deliver the "Best Case" scenario, the Gophers should maintain their current 4 year rolling average.

Should we worry about APR averages beyond next year?

As long as the Gophers don't have any more bad Fall semester departures the answer is probably no.

I honestly believe the Gophers will end up with the "Best Case" outcome for this academic year. I can't predict what the next 2 years hold, but if the Gopher were to average two transfers a year following a season where all players were eligible both semesters, their 4 year average APR would never drop below 940. Even with that slightly higher rate of attrition Minnesota would stay above the 930 cut line.

TL;DR

JUST SAY NO TO PLAYERS LEAVING THE U DURING/AFTER THE FALL SEMESTER IN THE COMING YEARS AND WE SHOULD BE OK.