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Division I college athletes match record-high academic performance

Overall Academic Progress Rate remains at 983

Division I student-athletes continue to succeed in the classroom at record-high levels. The overall four-year Academic Progress Rate concluding with the 2017-18 academic year held steady at 983, the highest ever recorded.

Four-year rates for football (964), men’s basketball (967) and women’s basketball (982) also held steady, while baseball increased by a point (976). The four-year rates include student-athletes who were in school between the 2014-15 and 2017-18 academic years.

NCAA President Mark Emmert praised the commitment to higher education among Division I student-athletes.

“We are proud of the continued high level of academic success Division I student-athletes achieve,” Emmert said. “We are seeing some flattening of the rates, which is not unusual given the large amount of data over a long period of time. But we will continue to focus on academic achievement and graduation as the ultimate goal for college athletes.”

Teams at limited-resource schools continued their trend of improvement. Since 2010-11, teams at schools that meet the NCAA’s limited-resource definition have improved from a 945 single-year APR to 969 in 2017-18. Limited-resource schools are determined by per capita institutional expenditures, athletics department funding and Pell Grant aid.

Historically black colleges and universities saw their single-year APR dip a point to 960, though schools in that category still posted a significantly higher score than their 2010-11 rate of 918.

To compete in the 2019-20 postseason, teams must achieve a 930 four-year APR. NCAA members chose the 930 standard because that score predicts, on average, a 50% graduation rate for teams at that APR level. Additionally, teams must earn at least a 930 four-year APR to avoid penalties.

Since the Division I membership created the Academic Performance Program 15 years ago, more than 17,500 former student-athletes have earned APR points for their prior teams by returning to college and earning a degree after their eligibility expired. Of those, more than half (9,174) competed in football, baseball or basketball. These students typically do not count in graduation rates because they earn degrees outside the six-year window allowed by both the federal graduation rate and the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, chair of the Division I Committee on Academics, recognized the impact of the Academic Performance Program.

“The Committee on Academics commends the positive impact the Academic Performance Program has had for our students engaged in intercollegiate athletics,” DeGioia said. “Thousands more students earn degrees every year with these academic expectations, accessing the lifelong benefits of a college education. We are proud of their success and sustained commitment to higher education.”

The Committee on Academics is conducting a holistic review of the Academic Performance Rate metric, including which student-athletes are included in the rate, how transfers are accounted for in the rate (before and after graduation), how the rate is calculated and how penalties are assigned.

The review, approved last year by the Division I Board of Directors, is intended to evaluate how well the APR is aligning with its purpose: monitoring and demonstrating academic performance and progress toward graduation. The review is expected to continue through 2019.

The APR, created to provide more of a real-time measurement of academic success than graduation rates offer, 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. Schools that don’t offer scholarships track their recruited student-athletes.

Every Division I sports team submits data to have its Academic Progress Rate calculated each academic year. The NCAA reports both single-year rates and four-year rates, on which penalties for poor academic performance are based. National aggregates are based on all teams with usable, member-provided data. APRs for each team, lists of teams receiving public recognition and those receiving sanctions are available online through the NCAA’s searchable database.