Hockey Ranks Highly in New NCAA Academic Report

Men’s ice hockey scored second-highest among all NCAA Division I men’s sports in the new Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores, released Monday.

The NCAA’s new academic measurement, known as APR, is based on the academic eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes. An APR score of 925 is equivalent to an approximate graduation rate of 50 percent. Penalties will be imposed on schools and programs that fail to meet the 925 threshold.

Men’s ice hockey came in with an APR score of 968, second only to gymnastics (973). Among women’s sports, ice hockey was fifth (975), but still finished with a higher score than any men’s sport.

Four men’s hockey programs — Vermont (900), Ohio State (892), Alaska-Anchorage (902) and St. Cloud State (898) — failed to reach the minimum requirements.

The data is based only on 2003-04, and therefore no action will be taken based on it. Not until two years’ worth of data is available will penalties be imposed.

According to data compiled by the NCAA, 7.2 percent of the 5,720 men’s and women’s sports teams competing in Division I fell below the 925 threshold. Failing to meet the threshold will put teams at risk for contemporaneous penalties.

In addition, approximately 50 percent of all Division I institutions have at least one team that falls below the new mark and could lose at least one scholarship in 2005-06. Most of those teams are concentrated in football, baseball and men’s basketball, according to the data.

Contemporaneous penalties are those that prevent programs from replacing the scholarship for one year of a student-athlete who leaves the institution and would not have been academically eligible had he or she returned.

NCAA president Myles Brand called the contemporaneous penalties an “early warning” designed to change behavior as more years of APR data are collected. If a team’s academic performance still lags after four years of APR data, harsher penalties might be applied.

Football, baseball and men’s basketball are the only sports whose average APR falls below 925. The 284 Division I baseball teams posted an average APR of 922, while the 234 football and 326 men’s basketball squads compiled an average APR of 923.

The overall Division I APR for 2003-04 (all teams) is 948. By subdivision, Division I-A’s APR is 944, Division I-AA’s is 946 and Division I-AAA’s is 954.

In men’s basketball, Division I-A institutions posted an average APR of 906. For Divisions I-AA and I-AAA, the average APR in men’s basketball is 933 and 934, respectively. In baseball, the breakdown is 912 for I-A, 931 for I-AA and 927 for I-AAA. In football, it is 921 for I-A and 925 for I-AA.

Private institutions posted higher average APRs than public institutions in all sports except men’s water polo and men’s rifle. The breakdown for men’s basketball is 912 (public) and 945 (private). In football, it is 913 and 949, respectively, and in baseball, it is 910 and 948, respectively.

The Committee on Academic Performance is considering a program to assist institutions with needed adjustments through what is being called an “academic recovery plan” for academically under-performing teams.

Such a plan may be required for some low-performing teams as early as next year. It would include ways that institutions might review recruiting practices and/or admissions policies for those sports, or look at the academic-support services available in those sports to see if improvements can be made.

Robert Hemenway, chancellor of the University of Kansas and chair of the Division I Board of Directors, said the APR reports signal a new day in academic reform — adding that institutions accustomed to what is now considered unacceptable behavior should quickly seek to change their ways.

“Those institutions that have not been dedicated to graduating their student-athletes know they now are in some considerable jeopardy because of having taken that approach,” Hemenway said. “I can’t think of a better way than the APR to signal that the integration of athletics and academics is indeed the policy for intercollegiate athletics moving forward.”