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Division I Committee on Academics studies Academic Performance Program

Members focus on effectiveness, impact of Academic Progress Rate

The Division I Committee on Academics continued its discussion of the evolution of the Academic Progress Rate during its meeting May 12.

The conversation, led by a task force of committee members, is focused on evaluating the effectiveness and impact of current APR calculations. The review is taking place during a two-year suspension of both APR penalties and public release of data. The pause was approved by the Division I Board of Directors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force is reviewing the impact of APR on limited-resource schools and historically Black colleges and universities, as well as other aspects of the calculations, including the impact of transfer activity and transparency.

“The Academic Performance Program and the APR have contributed to a positive focus on academic performance in college athletics,” said Committee on Academics chair Dianne Harrison, president emeritus of CSUN. 

The group began a conversation on emerging from the pause of penalties and public release of APR information but wants to review the data that schools are submitting prior to deciding on the best path forward.

Members hope to have the review complete within a year.

Wrestling proposals

The Division I Committee on Academics will ask the Division I Council to sponsor legislation aimed at supporting the academic success of wrestling student-athletes. The proposals would be considered during the 2021-22 legislative cycle, and members could vote on them as early as January 2022.

If approved, the measures would:

  • Require wrestling student-athletes to earn a 2.00 cumulative grade-point average or a 2.00 GPA in the most recent term in order to compete in the following term.
  • Require schools to provide each student-athlete who receives aid at least 20 percent of a full scholarship. Current exceptions for schools that provide need-based aid only would apply to this new requirement. Schools could provide less than 20 percent to a student-athlete in his final two years of eligibility who has not previously received athletically related financial aid for wrestling at any college or university.
  • Allow student-athletes in their first year of enrollment to represent a Division I school in up to five dates of competition without using a season of competition. These student-athletes must fulfill all GPA requirements, and if a student-athlete competes in outside competition without meeting the GPA requirements, they would become ineligible unless the Division I Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement restores their eligibility.
  • Bar student-athletes in their first term of enrollment in college from competing in outside competition during the academic year except as specifically permitted. Student-athletes entering their second or third full-time term of enrollment during their first year of enrollment could compete in outside competition as an individual during the academic year if they meet all GPA requirements.

The concepts are the result of a working group’s study of the academic performance of wrestling student-athletes. The Committee on Academics created the group at the request of the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Wrestling coaches, administrators, faculty and student-athletes served on the group aimed at not only supporting the academic success of wrestling student-athletes but also at preserving the sport of wrestling in Division I.

The group focused on the first year of enrollment because data show that wrestlers rank near the bottom of credits earned in both semesters of the freshman year when compared with other sports, and wrestlers lose significantly more APR points in the first year than in subsequent years. Wrestling ranks behind only football as sports with the highest number of redshirts, and the sport has the second-highest number of first-generation college students of any Division I sport.

Degree completion program

The committee members asked the Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee to provide a blanket waiver of a requirement of the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Degree Completion Program and the overall degree completion program.

After reviewing the number of participants in the basketball-centric program, the committee identified the requirement that former student-athletes return to their original school to complete their degrees as an impediment to participation. Committee on Academics committee members asked the Student-Athlete Experience Committee to consider providing a waiver to allow schools to pay for former student-athletes to complete classes at another school. They also asked the SAEC to consider expanding the program for all sports.

COVID-19 issues

The committee decided that several waivers of full-time enrollment requirements that were issued during the 2020-21 academic year would not be renewed for the 2021-22 academic year. Blanket waivers that allowed schools to provide financial aid to student-athletes who were not enrolled full time and allowed student-athletes to be involved in required, virtual, nonphysical activities while not enrolled full time will not be extended into the next school year. Individual waivers will be considered when appropriate.

Additionally, the committee last year provided relief from the requirement that student-athletes forfeit future eligibility if they compete while they were enrolled less than full time if they had already accumulated all the credits they need to graduate but did not graduate. That relief will not be provided in 2021-22.