92.4% of Sun Belt teams meet NCAA APR threshold

From the Sun Belt Conference

Over 90% of Sun Belt Conference teams earned a multiyear Academic Progress Rate (APR) of over 925 as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released its annual APR report today.

The Academic Progress Rate is a real-time measure of eligibility and retention of student-athletes competing on every Division I sports team.

The most recent APR scores are based on a multi-year rate that averages scores from the 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

The Division I Board of Directors set cut scores of 925 and 900 (out of 1,000) as a threshold for teams to meet or face possible immediate and historical sanctions.

In total, 92.4% of Sun Belt Conference teams earned a multiyear APR score over 925. Seven institutions had 100% of their programs score above the 925 mark, those institutions are: UALR, Denver, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy and Western Kentucky. Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic and FIU all had 94% of their programs score above the 925 mark.

"As a whole, Sun Belt Conference member institutions are hitting the mark for APR," said Sun Belt Conference Assistant Commissioner for Compliance and Educational Services Dominick Giambrone. "Most notably we have witnessed a rise in overall performance and our institutions are committed to monitoring and maintaining their APR scores."

The NCAA announced last week that ten Sun Belt Programs were honored with the association's Public Recognition Awards. Seven of the 12 Sun Belt Conference member institutions were recognized by the award which is based on their most recent multi-year Academic Progress Rates. These awards are given each year to teams scoring in the top 10 percent in each sport with their APRs. Middle Tennessee had three total teams listed, while North Texas had two teams recognized. UALR, Louisiana-Monroe, Denver, FIU and Western Kentucky each had one team recognized.

The NCAA also released on Tuesday penalties for all Division I sports teams that are based on historical APR rates. Teams that receive three straight years of historical penalties (by scoring below 900 APR) face the potential of restrictions on postseason competition for the team (such as a bowl game or the men's basketball tournament), in addition to scholarship and practice restrictions. One Sun Belt institution, Louisiana-Monroe, was issued a one-year postseason ban for its men's basketball team for the upcoming 2011-12 academic year. The 2012 Sun Belt Conference Men's Basketball Championship will consist of 11 teams with ULM's absence.

"The sanctions are based on APR scores from the 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years. However, we know that academic performances have already improved significantly for the sanctioned programs. The ULM Athletic Department continues to review and evaluate existing policies to address any systemic deficiencies," said Louisiana-Monroe Athletic Director Bobby Staub.

Each year the Sun Belt Conference hosts an Academic Summit designed for member institutions to discuss academic support programs for student-athletes and plans for academic reform within the league. The Academic Summit is an annual meeting scheduled to coincide with the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Championships. Since its inception in 2008, the Academic Summit has been a well received gathering for league Presidents, Athletic Directors, Faculty Athletic Representatives, Academic Support Personnel, as well as additional Sun Belt administrators and other national leaders campaigning for academic progress.

This past year's Academic Summit concentrated on a detailed analysis and evaluation of each member institution's academic support services, including its facilities and resources used to provide academic support to all student-athletes. There was also a NCAA staff liaison in attendance from the Committee on Academic Performance that presented on many of the national hot topics and specifically the academic reform concepts for two-year college transfers. Also discussed were the institutional policies in place at each campus regarding missed class-time and the assessment of academic risk of both the program and of the individual student-athlete.