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DI Committee on Academics begins review of academic metric

Members narrow focus of APR examination

The Division I Committee on Academics is focusing its review of the Academic Progress Rate in a few priority areas, including which student-athletes are included in the rate, transfers (before and after graduation), how the rate is calculated and how penalties are assigned.

The review, approved earlier this year by the Division I Board of Directors, is intended to evaluate how well the APR continues to align with its purpose: demonstrating academic performance and progress toward graduation.

During its meeting Oct. 9-10 in Indianapolis, the committee  said it will adjust the APR and the Academic Performance Program only if that correlation with graduation — and the Graduation Success Rate — can be improved.

“The APR should be about trying to identify the academic culture of a team and whether  that culture is conducive to those student-athletes graduating,” said committee vice chair Frank Bonner, president of Gardner-Webb. “This review may not necessarily lead to changes in how we calculate APR, but we are undertaking the review to make sure we are in the right place.”

Several factors have changed the metric in the nearly two decades since it was created, and the upcoming implementation of academic-based revenue distribution spurred the committee members to make sure the APR is measuring academic performance appropriately. The Division I Board of Directors approved the review over the summer.

The most recent review of the APR, conducted in 2010-11, resulted in increased penalty benchmarks, an adjusted penalty structure and a minimum APR requirement for access to the postseason. The committee will review data related to each of the priority areas at the group’s next meeting in February.

The review could be complete as early as next spring, with potential Academic Performance Program changes recommended for the 2020-21 data collection year.

Postgraduate opportunities

With the completion of the work of the Transfer Working Group, the Committee on Academics continued a discussion of academic expectations for student-athletes who continue to compete after graduation. The committee identified a set of guiding principles for its review, including the following:

  • Student-athletes who compete after graduation should have the ability to pursue educational opportunities that best prepare them for transitioning into their life after college.
  • Student-athletes who transfer to a different school to complete their athletics eligibility should have comparable flexibility to pursue different types of academic opportunities, like graduate certificate programs. Current rules that require such students to enroll in graduate degree programs may not be in the academic best interest of all student-athletes.

The group also identified updated data it will need to complete the review, including academic success/graduation of all postgraduate students, trends among graduate students in the student body and whether graduate students intend to complete a degree.

Academic misconduct

The committee also provided feedback to a working group examining academic misconduct rules. The group gave some advice about core academic areas schools should be monitoring to avoid incidents of academic misconduct, as well as potential methods to ensure annual monitoring and oversight occur. The feedback will guide the working group and the Division I Presidential Forum, which is leading the review.