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DI Committee on Academics recommends two-year APR penalty suspension

Comprehensive review of Academic Performance Program and its effect on teams planned

The Division I Committee on Academics is recommending the Division I Board of Directors suspend Academic Progress Rate penalties for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee met by videoconference Thursday.

In September, the committee had recommended a suspension of penalties for one year, but a review of early data and the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the committee to add an additional year. Schools also would not be subject to a loss of postseason competition due to low Academic Progress Rates during the same time period.

“The committee believes that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our higher education institutions warrants temporary relief from the penalties associated with the Academic Performance Program,” said committee chair John J. DeGioia, president at Georgetown. “We recommend the board recognize the challenges faced by schools and students engaged in intercollegiate athletics and provide relief at this difficult time.”

The Board of Directors will consider the recommendation during its videoconference Wednesday.

In light of the pandemic-related impact on APR data and variability in underlying factors contributing to the data, the committee recommends the APR data not be publicly released in spring 2021 or spring 2022 and the historical public recognition of teams that earn APRs in the top 10% for their sport for those years not occur. Members still would have access to their data, and the APR still would be used to calculate eligibility for the academic unit. 

Earlier this year, the Division I Council provided blanket waivers and other accommodations to student-athletes affected by the pandemic. While recognizing that those moves may impact the reliability and related usability of APR data by changing the academic behavior of student-athletes, the committee recommended that schools continue to submit data and request adjustments and corrections as the data are important to certain analyses of academic trends and to informing and supporting certain academic policy decisions.

The committee intends to use the suspension time period, if approved, to conduct a comprehensive review of the metric and its impact on teams, especially historically Black colleges and universities, limited-resource schools, and other student-athletes and schools that may face unique or especially difficult challenges during the pandemic.    

The review also would consider the changing landscape of transfers and the future use of standardized test scores for initial eligibility purposes.  

Wrestling Academic Enhancement

Committee members also reviewed recommended changes to legislation aimed at improving the academic performance of wrestlers. In response to a request from the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the Wrestling Academic Enhancement Working Group was created in June 2019 and charged with conducting a comprehensive review of issues impacting the academic performance of Division I wrestling student-athletes and teams. An executive summary of their findings was presented to the committee. The working group devised the legislative proposals over the last several months and included potential changes to academic eligibility, financial aid and outside competition rules. The committee will revisit the concepts to determine introduction into a future legislative cycle.

COVID-19 waiver guidelines

The committee approved waiver guidance for student-athletes who graduate after the fall 2020 term and return to use their remaining eligibility to enroll less than full time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee determined that student-athletes in this situation may enroll in no less than six credit hours per term for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year and that the opportunity to enroll less than full time be available to a student-athlete only for this academic year, even if eligibility continues to be extended.