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                BOULDER — The University of Colorado Academic Progress Rate (APR) report based on information for the four year period between 2005-06 and 2008-09 was released by the NCAA Wednesday afternoon with those of all other Division I schools, and CU’s report it supplied to the national organization contains, as university officials expected, both good and not-so-good news.


The football program has been issued a “contemporaneous penalty,” which amounts to a one-year reduction of five scholarships.  However, CU officials knew that the penalty was coming and have thus already absorbed it with a reduction of football student-athletes on aid for the 2009 season, and also expect marked improvement over the next two years.  


(Note: the NCAA website for APR currently lists CU’s penalty for football as being four scholarships; the correct number is five. The error was due to a simple administrative glitch which will be corrected in the near future.)


Though CU’s annual APR score for football was 931, six points above the 925 bench mark established by the NCAA, its four-year APR score was 920.  Over the course of those last four years, CU has had 31 players who were academically ineligible depart before graduation, 18 of whom did so after they exhausted their eligibility.  All 31, regardless of the reason, thus lost two APR points (also referred to as “0 for 2’s”), though the majority was attributed to those 18 who had concluded their athletic eligibility. 


There was not one root cause for the majority of the departures, rather all being spread out over such circumstances as transferring to another institution, leaving the university due to academic struggles, dismissal for team rules violations, medical reasons, and not completing their degree after exhausting their eligibility, which includes a handful who were either drafted into or signed as free agents with teams in the National Football League.


Additionally over the four year period, football lost eligibility (“E”) points when 29 team members were academically ineligible for a semester but were retained, while 18 others departed the team in good academic standing, so they only lost the retention (“R”) point.


Two players listed in earlier reports have since returned to school and have graduated, while two others are enrolled and are on schedule to do the same.   All four were included in the original 31 count listed above.  When this occurs and the players follow through and earn their degrees, schools can recover one of the lost points, earning a “delayed graduation point.”  During the four-year period, CU was awarded seven delayed graduation points for student-athletes who returned after an absence for whatever reason to fulfill their graduation requirements.


School officials are working on an academic improvement plan for football, as required by the NCAA; it is in the final developmental stages and is targeted for completion by August 1.


“Naturally, the APR score for football is of great concern to both our academic and athletic leadership at CU-Boulder,” chancellor Dr. Phil DiStefano said. “It represents a challenge we are working to meet through our APR improvement plan, new academic support staff in athletics, and renewed focus in recruiting and engagement with our student athletes. By working together guided by these strategies, I believe we can begin to reverse this APR trend.”


Nationally, 80 schools were penalized with scholarship reductions in one or more sports, including 31 men’s basketball programs and 26 football programs, the two most penalized sports; baseball was next with 16.  The most penalized women’s sport was indoor track, with eight violators.


It should be noted that football’s semester grade point average has topped 2.50 five of six semesters since recording a 2.104 for the 2006 fall semester, producing a cumulative GPA of 2.65 through last fall; information for the just completed spring term won’t be available until later this summer.  The latter is the highest value since information has been tracked beginning in 1996. 


               We have collectively demonstrated the ability to address our challenges and will remain diligent to meet our academic goals,” CU athletic director Mike Bohn said. 


The men’s basketball program was penalized after the 2007-08 report, which resulted in a one-year reduction in scholarships from 13 to 12; the team came back to post its second highest annual APR score (955) in the six years of reporting, and while the four-year APR score dipped from 900 to 897, the program is currently in position to climb above the 925 minimum.  The reason for the slight drop is that while the team’s latest APR score was that solid 955, it replaced a 960, the program’s high mark high mark in 2004-05, which was removed from the current four-year calculation.


Since the program was still below 925 in the multi-year score, men’s basketball was assessed the one scholarship contemporaneous penalty, which was already taken last year when former coach Jeff Bzdelik opted at that time to take the hit and awarded only 12 scholarships for the 2009-10 season.


Failure to achieve a multi-year score of 900 first results in a “historical penalty” amounting to a public reprimand, which CU received the year before last, and a requirement to submit an academic improvement plan to the NCAA.  Any subsequent historical penalties result in scholarship reductions and restrictions on practice time.  CU’s men’s basketball program avoided the second stage of historical penalty because, even though the program’s multi-year APR score fell below 900, its annual score of 955 was noted by the NCAA as a significant improvement and the historical penalty was forgiven.


               No other CU program had a multi-year APR score below 900, with football the only one between 900 and 925; all one-year APR scores for all 16 of Colorado’s programs were 931 or above.


For the sixth consecutive year all of CU’s other 14 programs are in good standing overall and not subject to any penalties.


                Four CU programs earned a perfect 1000 score for the 2008-09 annual report, women’s tennis for the third straight year, women’s basketball and women’s golf for the second straight year and men’s golf.  That brings the total to 21 times that CU has had programs earned a perfect score since the APR came into being.  Overall, six programs improved upon, with three others matching, their 2007-08 scores.  Three of those which did not improve, men’s and women’s skiing and volleyball, all had perfect 1000 scores a year ago but still posted excellent numbers.


                In the annual APR score, men’s basketball had the largest increase, jumping 71 points from 884 to 955, followed by women’s outdoor track (62 points, 915 to 977), women’s indoor track (61 points, 915 to 976) and women’s soccer (30 points, 937 to 967).


To be removed from the historical penalty probation, a program needs three consecutive years of 900 or higher on the multi-year APR score; if an institution’s sport program incurs another failing score while on probation, it would be subject up to 10 percent in scholarship losses, with the penalties increasing with each consecutive year of non-compliance.  Restrictions can also be placed on practice time, and there are more severe penalties for additional failing scores.


Points are deducted for student-athletes who record either “0-for-2’s,” those who have left school, quit or transferred with ineligible status, and “1-for 2’s,” for athletes who leave school eligible (“1-for-1” should they transfer to another institution with a GPA greater than 2.6) or who become ineligible but are retained.    


The Division I Board of Directors set minimum scores of 925 and 900 (out of 1000) as a threshold for teams to meet or face possible immediate contemporaneous and historical sanctions, respectively.  


                Now six years into the APR report card system, numbers have continued to settle down statistically as program histories take firmer 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 NCAA does not compute an overall number for each school, as the report card system is sport-specific.


The APR system, while complicated, can best be described as one that is based on two factors: eligibility/graduation and retention.  Each student-athlete accrues 0, 1 or 2 points per semester; if he or she is in good academic standing at the end of the term, including on-schedule progress toward a degree, and if they are enrolled in the subsequent term, they receive two points; if they are one and not the other, they earn a single point, and if neither, zero.  It should be noted that APR data are only collected for team members on athletic scholarship. 


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).


                The reporting covered all 16 of CU’s intercollegiate sport programs; team-by-team statistical data (A—denotes number of perfect 1000 annual APR scores in program history out of a maximum six; number in parenthesis is program’s high score if no 1000 scored as of yet; team GPA is cumulative value as of Fall 2009 and is listed for reference but has little to do with APR):




Team GPA



2008-09 APR

Four-Year APR

2005/06 to 2008/09

Men's Basketball






Men’s Cross Country












Men's Golf






Men's Skiing






Men's Indoor Track






Men's Outdoor Track






Women's Basketball






Women's Cross Country






Women's Golf






Women's Skiing






Women's Soccer






Women's Tennis






Women's Indoor Track






Women's Outdoor Track






Women's Volleyball