CU's APR rate highest since NCAA's program began

CU Sports Information Service news release

The University of Colorado Academic Progress Rate (APR) report based on information for the four year period between 2006-07 and 2009-10 was released by the NCAA Tuesday with those of all other Division I schools, with CU's news good across the board, including rates that are the highest in school history since the program was created seven years ago.

Two programs, men's golf and women's tennis, earned NCAA Public Recognition Awards, which are presented to the teams scoring in the top 10 percent in their most recent multi-year APRs in their sport, with both earning perfect 1000 four-year scores.  They are technically the first two to be recognized with the honor at CU; women's volleyball was recognized as achieving the status during the original evaluation period to establish APR guidelines back in 2005.

The most significant news in the report confirms that the football and men's basketball programs are back in good standing after making dramatic improvements.  Here are the particulars:

-- In the 2009-10 report, football achieved an annual APR of 958 and improved its four-year APR from 920 to 929; penalties may be imposed when the four-year score drops below 925.  School officials designed an academic improvement plan for football that was implemented last fall, and predictors are that an upward trajectory in APR scores will continue when the current year's scores are gathered this fall for next year's report.  CU's Faculty Athletics Representative, Dr. David Clough, noted that new coach "Jon Embree and his staff are attuned to the team's APR situation, crediting the transition under the new staff, as well former head coach Dan Hawkins and his staff, the team, and to the great academic support provided in Athletics and by the faculty and staff on the Boulder Campus."  This improvement came after the football program was issued a contemporaneous penalty in last year's report, which amounted to a one-year reduction of five scholarships (absorbed in the 2008-09 academic year). 

-- The men's basketball team continued its dramatic improvement, in 2009-10 recording its first perfect 1000 annual score since the creation of the APR.  That, despite a transition in coaching staff which usually causes a loss of APR points.  The four-year score, after three years below 900, jumped to 926 in the report, with those same predictors indicating continued improvement next year.  Clough again cited the first-year coaching staff led by Tad Boyle, former coach Jeff Bzdelik and his staff, the team, and all those who played a role in academic support.  Thus, this was also a great improvement after the men's basketball program was penalized after the 2008-09 report, which resulted in a one-year reduction in scholarships from 13 to 12 (taken in 2008-09). 

For the seventh consecutive year all of CU's other 14 programs are in good standing overall and not subject to any penalties, with 12 showing improvement in the four-year APR rate from the last report to this one and all with scores of 950 or above.  The two that did not improve, women's basketball and women's golf, had perfect 1000 annual scores a year ago but still posted excellent numbers (965 and 964, respectively).

In addition to men's basketball, women's tennis and men's golf, three other CU programs earned a perfect 1000 score for the 2009-10 annual report.  Women's tennis earned the perfect score for the fourth straight year and men's golf for a second; they were joined by men's cross country, women's cross country and women's volleyball.

That brings the total to 28 times that CU programs have earned a perfect score since the APR came into being.  All one-year scores for all 16 of Colorado's programs were 958 or above, with volleyball showing the largest increase, jumping 68 points from 932 to 1000, followed by men's cross country (49 points, 951 to 1000), men's basketball (45 points, 955 to 1000), women's skiing (43 points, 932 to 975), women's cross country (42 points, 957 to 1000) and men's skiing (41 points, 938 to 979).

Though the NCAA doesn't release data for all sports combined at every institution, Colorado's overall APR picture is very promising.  The average APR for all CU student-athletes, weighted appropriately by squad size, showed the annual figure improving from 953 to 973 from 2008-09 to 2009-10; two years ago, that average was 944, thus a 29-point improvement over the last two reports.

"I am gratified by the very positive trends for CU intercollegiate athletics demonstrated in this year's APR ratings," said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. "They are a testament to the commitment to academic achievement demonstrated by our players, coaches, faculty and administrators, and serve as proof positive that we are ready to enter with confidence the most academically challenging major athletic conference in the nation: the Pac-12."

Now seven years into the APR report card system, numbers continue to stabilize statistically as program histories take firmer roots.  The NCAA instituted the APR in 2004, with member schools supplying information first for the 2003-04 academic year for an initial look at how schools fared across the country.  The system analyzes a four-year period, thus new data for the most recent year replaces that on the front end of the previous year's research.

Nationally, 103 programs at 67 schools were sanctioned for poor academic performance, down from 137 and 80, respectively, last year.

The NCAA does not compute an overall number for each school, as the report card system is sport-specific.  The results have been trending upward over the past several years, and with the APR being a harbinger of graduation rates, those numbers are increasing annually as well.  In concert with both have been ever-improving grade point averages, with nine programs over 3.0 cumulatively and all over 2.5.  CU's 336 student-athletes owned a collective 2.833 cumulative grade point average through last fall, second highest on record since officials began tracking this info in 1995, with 40 percent at 3.0 or higher.

The reporting covered all 16 of CU's intercollegiate sport programs. For team-by-team statistical data visit www.cubuffs.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_LANG=C&ATCLID=205154416&DB_OEM_ID=600.

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