by Chris Bahn on Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2012 1:00 pm
This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.
Arkansas basketball is again under the NCAA-mandated benchmark for Academic Progress Rate scores, but will not be penalized.
Athletic department officials said even in posting a four-year rate of 894 the school showed sufficient progress toward improving its APR score and will avoid penalty for a second year in a row. Arkansas was docked a scholarship in 2011-12 for failing to meet the 925 standard.
“As we acknowledged a few years ago, it was going to take a number of years to see the statistical effect of the significant progress we have made academically in our men’s basketball program,” Athletic Director Jeff Long said in a release. “… The NCAA has taken notice of our commitment to sustained academic improvement and has decided to reward our program’s progress by not assigning penalties.”
Arkansas, which is still carrying what it describes as a “debilitating” 755 single-year score from 2007-08, could have faced additional scholarship losses or been ruled ineligible for postseason competition. Instead, the NCAA looked at improvements from the program and spared the Razorbacks more punishment as Coach Mike Anderson enters his second season.
Men’s basketball was the only one of the Razorbacks’ 19 sports in danger for failing to meet the APR score, a standard designed to measure eligibility and retention of athletes. All other programs were above the NCAA mandate. Scores for sports ranged from 936 (football) to a perfect 1,000 for men’s tennis and gymnastics.
Arkansas posted the highest four-year (970.3) and single-year (978.5) averages in school history. There were 15 programs that showed improvement from last season’s APR numbers.
Jon Fagg, senior associate athletic director for compliance, said the department’s focus on graduation, rather than eligibility has helped the improvements over the years. Arkansas encourages athletes to focus on graduation, rather than simply trying to maintain eligibility from semester to semester.
“We’re happy to see academic performance continue to improve,” Fagg said. “It’s a real tribute to coaches, student-athletes and staff. Everybody is working hard toward graduation.”
Men’s basketball graduated four last year, something that helped the APR score improve. A single-year score of 957 for 2010-11 helped as Arkansas made the case that it was working toward compliance with the APR.
Arkansas can use all 13 of its scholarships for the upcoming season thanks to the penalty being lifted. Currently, Anderson has 12 players on scholarship, but he and his staff are still evaluating players for 2012-13.
Below are the four-year Academic Progress Rate scores for Arkansas and how they stack up against the national average for other BCS programs: