The latest NCAA Academic Progress Rate scores show college athletes are continuing to excel in the classroom — though they may be hitting a peak.
The most recent statistics, released Wednesday, show this year’s overall four-year score matched last year’s record high of 983 and that the four-year scores in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball also matched last year’s marks. Baseball improved by one point to 976 while single-year scores at historically black schools declined slightly.
“We are seeing some flattening of rates, which is not unusual given the large amount of data over a long period of time,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “But we will continue to focus on academic achievement and graduation as the ultimate goal for college athletes.”
Women’s basketball players topped out at 982 while men’s basketball came in at 967 and football was at 964.
In the APR, each scholarship athlete receives one point per semester for being academically eligible and another point each semester for remaining in school or graduating. The NCAA says a score of 930 correlates to a 50 percent graduation rate and teams that finish below 930 can face penalties.
But after 13 consecutive overall record-high scores, and even before the most recent numbers covering 2013-14 through 2017-18 were released publicly, the NCAA already had started to re-evaluate its academic measurements.
The Committee on Academics is now considering which athletes are included in the APR, how transfers should count before and after graduation, how the rate is calculated and how penalties are assessed — another point of contention for critics who have long said APR scores do not provide a true measure of academic success. The review is expected to continue through 2019.
This year, 22 teams face penalties, including eight facing postseason bans . None is from a Power Five conference and seven of the 11 schools on that list are HBCUs.
Savannah State had four teams impacted — the most in Division I — including postseason bans for the school’s football and baseball teams. The school is in the process of moving to Division II.
Alabama A&M and Coppin State each have three teams facing punishment and Detroit Mercy is the only school dealing with a postseason ban, in men’s basketball.
While the one-year total for HBCUs declined by one point to 960, the NCAA noted that number is significantly higher than the 918 posted in 2010-11.
Low-resource institutions also have made big improvements, with its one-year scoring jumping from 945 in 2010-11 to 969 this year.
“Thousands more students earn degrees every year with these academic expectations, accessing the lifelong benefits of a college education,” said Georgetown President John DiGioia, chairman of the Committee on Academics. “We are proud of their success and sustained commitment to higher education.”
Last week, the NCAA recognized more than 1,300 teams for posting scores that were in the top 10 percent of their sport. That list included reigning national football champion Clemson and last year’s two national basketball champions — the Villanova men and Notre Dame women. Only two of this year’s eight Final Four teams received the award — the Auburn men and the Notre Dame women.