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By: Joel Broida
CU Athletics Records Highest-Ever APR Scores
Release: May 14, 2014
By: David Plati, Associate AD/Sports Information
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BOULDER — The University of Colorado Academic Progress Rate (APR) report based on information for the four year period between 2009-10 and 2012-13 was released by the NCAA Wednesday with those of all other Division I schools, with CU reporting record news for all 16 of its intercollegiate athletic programs in that time frame.

For the fourth consecutive year, the APR results are the highest in school history since the NCAA’s Academic Performance Program was introduced in 2003.  In this latest report, CU student-athletes have recorded a number of significant accomplishments:

  • The men’s cross country team achieved a perfect four-year APR score of 1000, and along the way won the NCAA Championship and a third straight Pac-12 championship last November;
  • The women’s cross country team, the Pac-12 runner-up, also achieved a perfect  four-year APR score;
  • Both cross country programs were recognized last week by the NCAA for their perfect APR scores, easily placing them in the top 10 percentile of all Division I teams;
  • All but two CU programs improved their four-year APR score from the 2013 report, giving the school its highest-ever APR average across all teams, a 983, since the inception of the Academic Performance Program;
  • Seven teams scored a perfect 1000 in their 2012-13 annual APR, bringing the all-time total to 46; the women’s cross country team earned a fourth consecutive perfect annual score;
  • Football continued its steady upward trend in APR performance with a 955 score, five years removed from a 919 in 2008-09 that led to six-scholarship penalty and the only real low point in CU’s APR history;
  • Men’s basketball maintained their remarkably high four-year score in the mid-980s (gaining a point to 985), continuing its dramatic improvement since Tad Boyle was named head coach in 2010.

“Our student-athletes have once again raised the bar and cleared it comfortably with the APR scores reported this week,” said Dr. David Clough, CU’s Faculty Athletics Representative after examining the APR scores released for the 2012-13 academic year. “These results have set a standard that will be difficult to outdistance next year,  At some point, we will expect annual variations about the high APR level reflected here, but our student-athletes continue to surprise me with their academic achievements.  These are also a credit to the great support provided by the Herbst Academic Center, the coaching staffs and the faculty advisors on campus.  All of us at CU-Boulder should be justly proud of this report.”

Clough’s comments are especially notable, since he has long been considered among his peers as one of the national experts on the NCAA’s APR program and its intricacies.

The volleyball team showed the greatest improvement in the multi-year score, raising its previous four-year score 17 points to a 994.  Overall, 12 programs improved their four-year scores with two others maintaining it; the only two that did not, women’s basketball and men’s golf, had just minor decreases.  Most importantly, no CU team has a score anywhere in the neighborhood of a 930, which is the penalty threshold that leads to the loss of postseason competition and other sanctions.    

It should be noted that Colorado’s 17th varsity program, women’s lacrosse, debuted this past spring and won’t be included in the report until next year.

"I am very proud of the continued success of our student-athletes in the classroom,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano.  “I echo professor David Clough’s contention that this progress demonstrates that academic success and athletic achievement are not mutually exclusive.  Look no further than our men’s cross country team.  They won the NCAA Championship this year and had a perfect four-year APR score of 1000.  That’s one of many examples of how our student-athletes are successful on and off the playing field."

The NCAA doesn’t release data for all sports combined at every institution, Colorado’s overall APR picture has been outstanding.  The average APR for all CU student-athletes was 943 for the 2006-07 report, and has been healthier ever since: 961 (2007-08), 967 (2008-09), 980 (2009-10), 989 (2010-11), 977 (2011-12) and 983 (2012-13).

Now 10 years into the APR report card system, numbers are continually stabilizing statistically as program histories take firm roots.  The NCAA instituted the APR in 2004, with member schools supplying information first for the 2003-04 academic year for an initial look at how schools fared across the country.  The system analyzes a four-year period, thus new data for the most recent year replaces that on the front end of the previous year’s research.

The reporting covered all 16 of CU’s intercollegiate sport programs (team-by-team statistical data; team GPA is cumulative value as of Fall 2013 and is listed for reference but is not strongly correlated with APR):

Program

 

 

2012-13 APR

 


Four-Year APR
2009-10 to 2012-13

Team GPA
(Cumulative)

Men's Basketball

MBB

984

 

985

2.519

Men’s Cross Country

MXC

1000

1000

2.668

Football

FB

960

955

2.691

Men's Golf

MGF

944

973

2.851

Men's Skiing

MSK

979

976

3.403

Men's Indoor Track

MIT

980

980

............

Men's Outdoor Track

MOT

981

983

2.621

Women's Basketball

WBB

1000

985

2.848

Women's Cross Country

WXC

1000

1000

3.407

Women's Golf

WGF

1000

982

3.111

Women's Lacrosse

LAX

N/A

N/A

2.928

Women's Skiing

WSK

970

973

3.463

Women's Soccer

SOC

1000

991

3.324

Women's Tennis

TEN

1000

991

2.981

Women's Indoor Track

WIT

991

980

............

Women's Outdoor Track

WOT

991

980

3.114

Women's Volleyball

VB

1000

994

2.991

 

THE NCAA APR SYSTEM

While complicated, APR (Academic Progress Rate) can best be described as one that is based on two factors: eligibility/graduation (“E” point) and retention (“R” point).  APR data are only collected for team members on athletically-related financial aid (full or partial scholarships).  The “E” point is earned by maintaining eligibility at the end of a semester; the “R” point is earned by being retained in the following semester.  Thus, each student-athlete accrues 0, 1 or 2 points per semester. 

For example, if a team was comprised of 20 student-athletes on aid, and all 20 were in good academic standing and returned to school the next semester, the team’s semester APR would be 1000 (40 out of a 40 possible points).  The next semester, if two became ineligible, one left school and one stayed, and the other 18 remained in good standing, the semester APR would be 925 (37 of 40).  The team’s APR for the year would thus be 963 (for 77 out of 80 possible points).  To determine an APR score for four years, the total points earned by the team over that period of time is divided by the total points possible and reported as a “batting average” on the basis of 1000. 

Student-athletes who leave the institution and are ineligible cause a loss of two points in the APR calculation.  These are traditionally called “0-for-2’s”. Student-athletes who leave in eligible status lose only one point and are called “1-for-2’s.”  If the latter depart and sign a contract to play their sport professionally, the loss of the “R” point is forgiven.  And, if they transfer to another four-year institution and depart with a cumulative GPA greater than or equal to 2.6, the loss is also forgiven.  In these last two categories, the student-athletes are called “1-for-1’s.”  A student-athlete who leaves eligible, loses the “R” point, and returns in a later year to continue their studies and graduates, achieves a delayed graduation point in the semester they graduate.  And, finally, a student-athlete who is ineligible at the end of a term, but is retained, also loses one point, the “E”, and is also called a “1-for-2.”

The NCAA has established a new penalty threshold of 930, which increased from the prior 900.  Teams with multiyear scores below this threshold are subject to a ban of postseason competition plus limitations on practice time, length of season and number of competitions.  Several Division I teams, including those in football and men’s basketball will be penalized according to this new standard beginning in 2014-15.   

NOTE: There is not a precise relationship between APR and subsequent graduation rates, but APR scores in the range of 930 to 940 generally yield graduation rates in the neighborhood of 50% or greater.  APR scores above 960 will usually yield graduation rates of 70% or higher, higher than the norm of the general student population at CU.  These are Federal Graduation Rates (FGR).  The NCAA also tracks a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) that accommodates transfers out of and into the institution and, consequently, is often about 10 percentage points higher than the FGR.
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