February 28, 2005
Since the NCAA annual convention was held last month locally in Grapevine, there has been a lot of media exposure for the new Academic Progress Rate (APR) that has been instituted by the NCAA to hold Division I institutions accountable for the academic progress and graduation of their student-athletes receiving athletic financial aid. Today the NCAA released the APRs for more than 5,000 teams. The SMU athletic program received an APR of 962, well above the Division I average of 948. That is a tribute to our student-athletes (SA) and the academic support staff in the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center. We have projected that our APR for fall 2005 will rise to 985.
Before evaluating our "report card," I would like to explain to you how the APR system works. It's complicated and imperfect at this stage of the program. Wally Renfro, who is the senior advisor to NCAA president Myles Brand, called the APR "very much an evolutionary process...we know that we could not have possibly anticipated all the situations that may arise." There will be changes and fine-tuning in the system before the fall of 2006 when contemporaneous penalties will be implemented based on APR data submitted by institutions for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 time periods.
The APR is a real-time assessment of each team's academic performance, measuring eligibility/graduation and retention for all student-athletes (SA) receiving athletic financial aid during an academic year. It is not a measurement of graduation rates. Once APRs for a team are accumulated over several years, there should be a correlation between a team's APR and its graduation rate.
*For a SA to earn two points for a fall semester, the SA must return to the institution for the spring semester (1) and retain eligibility for competition for the spring semester (1). APR score: 2/2
*For a SA to earn two points for a spring semester, the SA must return to the institution for the fall semester (1) and retain eligibility for competition for the fall semester (1). APR score: 2/2
*A SA who graduates during either semester is awarded two points. APR score: 2/2
*For the 2003-04 academic year, the SMU football team earned 326 points [corrected total] out of a possible 350 points for a raw APR score of .931 (93.1 percent). Raw APR .931 x 1000 = 931 final APR for 2003-04.
*The 2003-04 APR score for the SMU men's tennis team was 913 based on a roster of only eight SAs earning 21 out of 23 possible points. The men's tennis team "upper confidence boundary" is greater than 925 as calculated by the NCAA, so it would not be subject to a contemporaneous penalty.
When imposed, contemporaneous penalties will restrict an institution's ability to re-award the grant-in-aid of a SA who left the institution and would not have been academically eligible had he/she returned. Teams with two-year APR scores AND upper confidence boundaries below 925 will be penalized. The penalties will be implemented only when these teams lose a SA who would not have been academically eligible had he/she returned (0-for-2). The teams will not be able to re-award the grant-in-aid to another SA for a period of one year. Examples:
The penalty must be imposed at the next opportunity, but not later than two academic years after the SA's departure. The penalties applicable to a team in any given year will be up to, but not more than 10 percent of the maximum financial aid team limit in that sport.
None of SMU's team would have received penalties based on their APRs from 2003-04. Eight of our 16 teams had perfect 1,000 APRs - men's basketball, cross country, women's golf, men's soccer, men's swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track, and volleyball.
Only one SMU team fell below the 925 score, men's tennis, and that was due to one of those very unusual situations that Wally Renfro said the NCAA could not have anticipated. A SA who was academic all-conference three times and had a 3.77 GPA lost an APR point for the team that disproportionately impacted the APR for men's tennis because there were only eight players on the squad receiving athletic aid. The SA did not return for the fall semester because one of the courses he needed to graduate was offered only in the spring term. We will appeal the loss of that point.
SMU provides all students with a challenging academic environment. Despite the time demands of being a varsity athletes, our SAs have fared very well. In the past 10 years, the graduation rate for SAs who completed their eligibility at SMU has been better than 96 percent.