NCAA's 2015-16 APR Increase Gets Mixed Review | Athletic Business

NCAA's 2015-16 APR Increase Gets Mixed Review

Yesterday, the NCAA announced that the 2015-16 Division I student-athlete Academic Progress Rate showed an increase over the previous four-year average for the 12th year in a row, resulting in another all-time high.

According to a press release, the most recent APR came in at a national average of 981 (out of 1000), an increase of two points over last year’s rate, with a significant portion of the increase coming from baseball, football and basketball.

The NCAA also reported a steady increase in points earned by limited-resource schools and historically black colleges and universities.

NCAA president Mark Emmert commented on the newly released numbers, saying, “I am so pleased that the Academic Progress Rates continue to rise, but I am more excited about what those numbers mean: Thousands of college athletes continue to make real progress toward earning their degrees.”

“When the NCAA created the Academic Performance Program,” said Emmert, “the goal was to motivate everyone in college sports to encourage the academic achievements of student-athletes, rather than just punish teams that don’t meet the benchmark.”

However, while some congratulate member schools on the appearance of academic progress, others are less than impressed by what they see as a meaningless system of measurement.

The APR system has been criticized for measuring only student-athletes’ eligibility and progress toward graduation, rather than promoting real academic integrity (schools receive one point for a student maintaining eligibility, and one point for staying in school or graduating).

Writing for Forbes magazine, professor of sport administration B. David Ridpath said, “the APR makes it very easy to mask what is going on behind the curtain of academic eligibility in big-time college sports.”

According to Ridpath, athletes are often admitted to a school at a lower academic level than the standard for the incoming class, which puts them at an academic disadvantage, without adequate time or resources to catch up.

Related: Are Academic Support Centers Worth the Investment?

“The worst part of the APR is that it punishes schools who do not have the resources to build the expensive ‘academic eligibility mechanism’ of facilities, advisers and equipment that many schools use to insure they meet APR numbers,” said Ridpath.

Related: Tipping Point?

The only benefit of the APR system Ridpath could point out is that it makes schools publicly responsible for student’s academic standing.

Related: Should Coaches' Contracts Incentivize Academic Success?

“However,” he said, “the unintended consequence (or maybe actually intended) is that it encourages keeping the athlete eligible by any means necessary to keep a team score above 930. It is self-explanatory to see what can happen and does happen in a process like this.”

What do you think? 

{module APR Quiz}

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