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Division I student-athletes continue record-high classroom achievement

Academic Progress Rate shows little change in most major sports

Division I student-athletes continue to achieve classroom success at record-high levels, earning an overall multiyear Academic Progress Rate of 983 for the third consecutive year.

Like the overall multiyear rate, which includes data from the 2015-16 academic year through the 2018-19 academic year, the multiyear rates for baseball, football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball were consistent or moved by a single point. Baseball was up 1 point to 977, football stayed at 964, men’s basketball dropped 1 to 966 and women’s basketball increased 1 to 983.

NCAA President Mark Emmert praised student-athletes for continuing to achieve at what already was a very high level.

“The sustained academic achievement of Division I student-athletes is nothing short of remarkable. Their hard work in the classroom is just as evident as their efforts on the field,” Emmert said. “Their success is something to be celebrated. Faculty, administrators and coaches all are committed to support student-athletes as they work toward earning a degree.”

To compete in the 2019-20 postseason, teams had to achieve a four-year APR of 930. 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 a four-year APR of at least 930 to avoid penalties.

Since the Division I membership created the Academic Performance Program 15 years ago, more than 18,750 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 (9,621) competed in football, baseball or basketball. These students typically do not count in graduation rates because they earn degrees outside the six-year window measured 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, which oversees the Academic Performance Program, noted the academic achievement of Division I college athletes.

“The Committee on Academics commends Division I students engaged in intercollegiate athletics for their hard work and depth of commitment to success in both academic and athletic pursuits,” DeGioia said. “The strong academic standards provided by the Academic Performance Program have led to thousands of students graduating and gaining access to the lifelong benefits of a college education. We are proud of them for their accomplishments and Division I member institutions for their dedication to a common framework for sustained student achievement.”

For the first time, a portion of NCAA revenue is being distributed this year to members based on the academic achievement of student-athletes, including APR scores.

Each school can earn one academic achievement unit per year if its student-athletes meet at least one of the following requirements:  

  • Earn an overall single-year all-sport Academic Progress Rate of 985 or higher.
  • Earn an overall all-sport Graduation Success Rate of 90% or higher.
  • Earn a federal graduation rate that is at least 13 percentage points higher than the federal graduation rate of the student body at that school.

As requested by the Division I Board of Directors, the NCAA will not publicize which schools received the unit. Dollar figures were impacted by the cancellation of the 2020 Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

The APR, created to provide more of a real-time measurement of academic success than graduation rates offer, is a team-based metric in which scholarship student-athletes earn 1 point each term for remaining eligible and 1 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 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.