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Most Division I teams deliver top grades

Latest data show continued impact of academic reforms

The majority of Division I sports teams are posting top grades, according to the NCAA’s latest Academic Progress Rates.

The most recent four-year Division I APR is 973, up three points over last year. The average four-year rate also rose in the high-profile sports of men’s basketball, football and baseball. 

Now in its ninth year, APR is resulting in real measurable impacts, said NCAA President Mark Emmert.

“We expect student-athletes to meet their dual responsibilities, and most of them are doing so,” Emmert said.

In the NCAA’s highest profile sports, the average four-year APR for men’s basketball is 950, up five points over last year; football is 948, up two points; and baseball is 965, up six points.

Through APR, nearly 10,000 former student-athletes have returned to campus and earned their degrees in the past eight years. In the process, their teams earned an extra APR point. Of these 9,822 students, almost half (4,505) were in men’s basketball, football and baseball.

“That is real impact,” Emmert said.

Every Division I sports team calculates its APR each academic year, based on the eligibility and retention of each scholarship student-athlete. Teams scoring below certain thresholds can face sanctions, such as scholarship losses and restrictions on practice. Rates are based on the past four years’ performance.

Emmert stressed that APRs over time have seen dramatic improvement. Year-to-year comparisons, though, are showing some flattening out over time and even some slight decreases, which is not unexpected, he added.

At the same time, teams performing at the low end of the APR scale are doing better, Emmfiert said.  

The Division I Board of Directors last fall approved tougher academic standards, including setting a new standard that teams must meet to compete in the postseason.

The standard for postseason access starts at 900 APR but over the next few years climbs to 930, which equates to a 50 percent Graduation Success Rate. To assist limited-resource institutions, the board gave these schools and their teams more flexibility to meet the standards.

According to the latest APR figures, 15 teams will not have access to the postseason for the 2012-13 season, compared to only eight last season.

“This is not a penalty—it’s our expectation,” Emmert said. “Just as a team needs a winning record to make the playoffs or the tournament, they need a winning record in the classroom as well.”

Teams with postseason ineligibility for 2012-13 season (all of these teams also face APR penalties)

Men's Basketball

  • California State University, Bakersfield*
  • Jacksonville State University
  • Mississippi Valley State University
  • Texas A&M Corpus Christi
  • Towson University
  • University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Connecticut
  • UNC-Wilmington
  • University of Toledo

*Data still under review


  • Hampton University
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • Texas Southern University
  • Men's Soccer

  • Central Connecticut State University
  • Men's Wrestling

  • University of Northern Colorado

(Eight teams were ineligible for the postseason in 2011-12)

The 15 include 10 men’s basketball teams, three football teams, one men’s soccer team and one wrestling team.

In terms of penalties, 35 teams with APRs below 900 (out of 54) are facing sanctions next season including restrictions on practice and regular season competition and other penalties, including reductions in scholarships. All 15 teams that lost postseason access also have APR penalties.

Emmert emphasized that the current Division I reform package will lead to greater impact in the future, particularly with increased academic standards for incoming students and transfers from two-year colleges.

Emmert said the higher standards are needed to address key areas in need of additional improvement, including men’s basketball and football. While APRs have gotten better over time in these two high-profile sports, they are still the lowest among all NCAA sports.

Support from NCAA member colleges and universities has been critical in developing the higher standards, said Walter Harrison, chair of the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance and president of the University of Hartford.

“These changes will lead to higher academic expectations and better-prepared students coming to our colleges and universities,” Harrison said.

To ensure fairness in APR, the NCAA provides adjustments for student-athletes who transfer with certain grade point averages and those who leave in good academic standing for professional athletics careers.

This past year, 702 student-athletes were granted APR adjustments for professional departures, out of 6,412 Division I sports teams. Almost half (44 percent) were in baseball. Of the 64 adjustments for men’s basketball, only five were for first-year college student-athletes.

There are 1,068 fewer student-athletes this year who are “0-for-2,” compared to 2004-05, the first year of APR penalties. This term defines student-athletes who leave school academically ineligible and do not earn either point in the APR calculation.

After years of decline, there was a slight increase in the number of 0-for-2 students in 2010-11 compared to the previous year. The increase of 94 students was mostly in sports other than men’s basketball and football.

Still, the number of students considered 0-for-2 is down 27 percent since 2004-05 and account for only 2.4 percent of Division I student-athletes.

Last week, 954 teams were publicly recognized for posting multi-year APRs in the top 10 percent of each sport.

The most recent APR scores are multi-year rates based on the scores from the 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.

APR scores per institution, along with penalties per school and teams receiving public recognition, are available online through the NCAA’s searchable database.

Teams with penalties for 2012-13 season

There are 35 Division I teams facing penalties in 2012-13 for not meeting the mark academically. This means they posted an APR score below 900. The NCAA’s revised penalty structure has three levels, with penalties increasing in severity at each level. The specific penalties for each team are listed on their school’s penalty report in the APR searchable database.

Level One penalties focus on practice restrictions so teams can focus on academics. Teams facing this penalty lose four hours of practice time one day per week. That time must be replaced with academic activities. There are 26 teams this year with this level of penalty.

Level Two penalties include the Level One penalty, along with a reduction of four hours of practice time out of season replaced with academic activities. This level also includes the elimination of the nonchampionship season or spring football. Teams without a nonchampionship season face a reduced number of contests. There are no teams in this penalty category this year due to the transition from the prior penalty structure.

Level Three penalties include all Level One and Two penalties, plus a menu of potential additional penalties. These can include financial aid reductions; additional practice and contest restrictions; coach-specific penalties (including game and recruiting restrictions); restricted access to practice for incoming students who fall below certain academic standards; restricted membership; and potential multiyear bans on postseason competition. There are nine teams this year with this level of penalty.

Teams facing Level One APR penalties

  • Alabama State University: men's basketball, football
  • California State University, Bakersfield: men's basketball, men's golf
  • Central Connecticut State University, men's soccer
  • Chicago State University: men's track indoor, men's track outdoor
  • Delaware State University: men's basketball
  • Florida A&M University: women's volleyball
  • Hampton University: football
  • North Carolina Central University: men's cross country, men's track indoor, men's track outdoor
  • Prairie View A&M University: football, men's track indoor, men's track outdoor
  • South Carolina State University: men's track indoor
  • Southern University: men's track indoor, men's track outdoor
  • Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi: men's basketball
  • Towson University: men's basketball
  • University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff: men's basketball
  • University of California, Riverside: men's basketball
  • University of Connecticut: men's basketball
  • University of North Carolina, Wilmington: men's basketball
  • University of Northern Colorado: men's wrestling


Teams facing Level Three APR penalties

  • Chicago State University: women's cross country
  • Grambling State University: men's basketball
  • Jacksonville State University: men's basketball
  • Mississippi Valley State University: men's basketball
  • North Carolina A&T State University: football
  • Texas Southern University: football
  • University of Louisiana at Monroe: men's basketball
  • University of Maryland, Eastern Shore: men's basketball
  • University of Toledo: men's basketball


Academic Progress Rates

Key Points

  • Academic reform is a success. It has not yet arrived, but has made an impact. It has changed the academic performance of student-athletes and our expectations of their academic performance.
  • NCAA academic initiatives are all about having students show up ready to learn, being supported when they are with us, and holding student-athletes, coaches, teams and universities accountable.
  • Increased academic standards are about the 99 percent of student-athletes who will be going pro in something other than sports.