March 9, 2005
Yale recorded the highest academic progress rate (APR) out of 326 Division I schools in data recently released by the NCAA. The APR, a numerical representation of whether a school's athletes remain at the school and stay academically eligible until graduation, is part of a new program designed to hold college athletics to a higher academic standard. Yale's score of 999, with 27 of 29 teams receiving perfect marks, was well above the nationwide average of 944.
Fifty-six percent of Division I schools were shown to have at least one program that did not reach the benchmark score of 925, which projects a 50 percent graduation rate. Division I-A was even more imperfect--66 percent of I-A schools had substandard programs, including 10 SEC teams, eight from the Pac-10, and all 12 schools in the Big 12. The Ivy League was the only athletic conference in the nation in complete compliance with the new minimum academic performance standard.
The initial APRs are warning shots. Severe penalties for deficient programs will begin kicking in next fall, when a two-year average of academic performance is available. At that time, teams below the benchmark will not be able to replace scholarship players who leave while academically ineligible. Chronically under performing teams will be banned from the postseason beginning in 2008. Finally, as early as 2009 the harshest measure could be applied to schools with the most persistent of delinquents--restricted NCAA membership, precluding all postseason participation for the entire athletic program.
Walter Harrison, University of Hartford President and head of the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance, hopes that presidents, athletic directors, and coaches will use the new ratings as motivation to improve. "The point of this," Harrison said, "Is to change behavior."
report by Tynan Granberg, Yale Sports Publicity