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DI Committee on Academics adjusts Academic Performance Program policies

Postgrad APR calculation, flexibility for limited-resource schools altered

The Committee on Academics made two adjustments to the Academic Performance Program as a result of the group’s holistic review of the program. The group met virtually Monday, May 11.

Committee members determined that student-athletes who graduate and continue to participate in college sports will still be accountable for earning the eligibility point in the Academic Progress Rate calculation, but the retention point will no longer be an APR element for these postgraduates.

Additionally, the group extended flexibility to limited resource schools that fall below the standard required to avoid penalties and altered how that flexibility is applied.

The APR, created to provide more of a real-time measurement of academic success than graduation rates, is a team-based metric where scholarship student-athletes earn one point each term for remaining eligible and one point for staying in school or graduating.

Before the committee’s action, students who competed after earning an undergraduate degree had been expected to earn the eligibility portion of the calculation, but the retention point was automatically awarded. Under that philosophy, students who graduated were believed to have fulfilled their academic obligations by earning a degree.

The committee members believe that modifying the policy to remove the retention point from the graduates’ calculation acknowledges that graduation has been achieved and maintaining eligibility as a postgraduate student is the new focus.

The committee affirmed the need to keep these student-athletes in the APR cohort as they are still participating in their sport and have eligibility requirements to meet. The group noted that the automatic awarding of the retention point was not statistically significant in the APR calculation and did not seem appropriate when it does not actually reflect the student-athlete’s retention and movement toward graduation.

The previous policy that automatically awarded every postgraduate a retention point did not allow for accurate reporting on the retention and additional degree attainment of students participating after earning an undergraduate degree.

Penalty filters

The committee also agreed to extend filters provided to limited resource schools. The filters were set to expire after the 2020-21 academic year.

The goal of the Academic Performance Program is to encourage schools to improve the academic outcomes for underperforming teams. Many limited-resource schools have a clearly stated mission to provide access to educational opportunities to a broader group of students, including those who might not otherwise attend college.

Limited-resource teams have been able to avoid penalties and/or the loss of access to the postseason by meeting a standard that shows academic improvement of teams at the school. Teams will now be able to use those filters twice in a rolling five-year period.

Committee members decided to limit the use of filters to spur schools to continue to work toward academic achievement. The committee will continue to require a more rigorous review of enhanced APR improvement plans for teams that take advantage of the filter.

Because the APP is overseen by the Committee on Academics, these changes are considered final and will apply to the 2020-21 data year, for which data will be submitted in fall 2021.

The holistic review is not complete, and the committee members committed to examine the cohort definition of student-athletes included in the APR and how both transfers and student-athletes who leave school for professional opportunities are treated in the rate. A subcommittee of the group also will examine alternative ways to honor high-performing academic teams, currently recognized through the top 10% release annually.

COVID-19

Committee members declined to provide a blanket waiver for spring sport student-athletes who graduate in spring or summer 2020 to enroll in less than a full-time academic load during the 2020-21 academic year. As proposed, recipients of the blanket waiver would have had to enroll in and pass three credits in fall 2020 and enroll in at least three credits for the spring 2021 semester.

Schools may file for individual waivers of academic requirements.

The group also voted to allow schools that have lost access to the postseason in 2020-21 and lost a postseason opportunity in 2019-20 because of COVID-19 to request a delay in the application of the 2020-21 postseason ban to the 2021-22 academic year. Committee members think few teams would be interested in such an opportunity but the move would appeal to some in specific circumstances.

Any team that takes advantage of the opportunity to delay must take the postseason ban in 2021-22 and still must serve Academic Performance Program penalties (e.g. loss of athletic activities) in 2020-21. If a team should face a loss of access to the postseason in 2021-22 due to continued poor academic performance, the team will push that loss to 2022-23.