The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Sports teams pass progress rates

The NCAA has released initial Academic Progress Rates based on the fall 2003 and spring 2004 semesters, and SMU’s 282 student-athletes receiving financial aid combined to post a score of 962, above the NCAA Division I average of 948.

Eight of the 16 SMU teams covered in the initial reports posted perfect APR scores of 1,000, including men’s basketball, cross country, women’s golf, men’s soccer, men’s swimming, indoor track, outdoor track and volleyball. Additionally, none of SMU’s athletic programs would be subject to penalties based on these new rules that will go into effect in the fall of 2006 based on APR data from 2003-04 and 2004-05.

Only two of SMU’s programs, football and men’s tennis, scored less than the NCAA’s designated cutoff point of 925 in the initial rankings, but those numbers will change when the NCAA posts corrected ratings in April. SMU discovered incorrect data in the football team’s initial report that, once corrected, will result in an APR above 930.

“Many institutions will need to submit corrections and scores may change based on this corrected data,” said NCAA vice president for member services Kevin Lennon.

“This is very much an evolutionary process,” said NCAA senior adviser to the president of the NCAA Wally Renfro. “A lot of work has gone into the place we are at this month, but we also know we could not have possibly anticipated all the situations that may arise.”

For example, in men’s tennis, a three-time academic all-conference student-athlete with a 3.77 GPA lost an APR point for retention that disproportionately impacted the team’s APR because there were only eight on the squad on athletic aid. The student-athlete, an academic senior, did not return for the fall semester because a specific course he needed to graduate was offered only in the spring, at which time he re-enrolled, putting him on track to graduate in May. SMU will appeal the ruling.

The APR uses a system based on eligibility and retention. Every student-athlete can earn two points each term: one for eligibility and one for returning to school. If a student-athlete maintains eligibility for the next semester and returns, the team he or she plays for gets two points (2/2). If a student-athlete is eligible but leaves school, the school loses one point (1/2). If a student-athlete loses eligibility and also leaves school, the school loses two points (0/2). Every student-athlete’s score is added to come up with a team total and APR.

Additionally, the NCAA has established a “confidence boundary,” a margin of error for use during the period of time where there is only a limited amount of APR data or a small squad size as in the case of men’s tennis, and, in order for a team to become subject to the penalty, the “upper-confidence boundary” of a team’s APR score would have to be below 925. The upper-confidence boundary of the men’s tennis program is above 925, and therefore no penalties would have been assessed.

“As an institution that values academic success as an important part of its athletics program, SMU applauds the NCAA’s effort to measure academic accountability in intercollegiate athletics programs nationwide,” President R. Gerald Turner said. “However, we know that any new rating system with many variables is going to have snags that need to be worked out. For that reason, we appreciate the NCAA’s willingness to accept and make corrections to the data used in making the initial calculations.”

As a proactive measure, SMU has already preliminarily calculated its overall APR using the NCAA’s methodology for the fall semester of 2004 and projects a score above 980. For the semester, 13 of SMU’s 17 teams (including equestrian, which was omitted from the NCAA’s original APRs due to a lack of scholarship riders during the 2003-04 school year) earned APRs of 1,000. The two teams with reported APRs lower than 925 in the initial report both score substantially higher than 925 in the fall of 2004, with football rating a 982 and men’s tennis scoring a perfect 1,000.

SMU has also preliminarily figured its rolling APR covering fall 2003, spring 2004 and fall 2004. For that three-semester period, seven teams have perfect APRs of 1,000, and no program is lower than 935.

“SMU provides a challenging academic environment, and we’re proud of the academic success of our student-athletes — including our 10-year refined graduation rate of better than 96 percent,” SMU Athletic Director Jim Copeland said in a press release. “It is a tribute to our student-athletes and SMU’s academic support staff that they posted a combined APR of 962 in this initial report and a projected fall APR of 985, while balancing the demands of being a varsity athlete.”

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