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What the APR Means to Iowa State


The NCAA released the Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores for the 2011-2012 school year on Tuesday, and for the most part, things look good for Iowa State. However, most of you likely read our link to SBNation's coverage of the APR release, and saw that Iowa State's football team is one of the lowest scoring FBS teams. The score presented by Brett McMurphy in this tweet is misleading:

But before we get into the nuts and bolts let's back up and explain what the APR is.

What is the APR?

Here's what the official NCAA web site for the APR states:

The Academic Progress Rate measures the academic achievement of Division I teams during each academic term. Each student-athlete earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and multiplied by 1,000 to produce the team’s APR. A 930 APR predicts about a 50 percent graduation rate. Teams falling below an APR of 930 face sanctions ranging from scholarship reductions to more severe penalties.

Simple enough. Now let's move on.

How Are Sanctions Determined?

The NCAA uses somewhat confusing language in how the APR evaluations are established but it's simple once you get a handle on it. A team has to keep a multi-year (read: four-year) average above 900 OR a two-year average above 930. Starting in the 2014-2015 seasons teams are required to maintain a four-year average above 930 OR a two-year average above 940. The two-year average doesn't jump much, but the four-year average jumps to a point where the NCAA is essentially mandating schools graduate at least half their athletes in a given program to be eligible for postseason play.

What Were the Numbers Just Reported?

That scary 928 number that was reported for football? It was the four-year average and that makes a huge difference in how this program should be perceived. The NCAA prefers to report the four-year average as it gives a more complete look at a program, but in the case of Iowa State, the results are skewed in a bad way. Using this handy tool it's easy to find year-over-year numbers for any school and any sport. Digging into the PDFs for each individual year presents a much clearer look at the football program's APR:

2011-2012: 934

2010-2011: 942

2009-2010: 946

2008-2009: 889

The first thing to note here is how the ghost of Gene Chizik is still haunting the program, but as a whole things are heading the right direction. If you take the mean of the three reported years under Rhoads and add it to the four-year average in place of the score from 2008 you get a 941 multi-year score. Well above the necessary requirements going forward.

Strangely though the second thing to take note of is how the score, however small it may be, has dropped each year under Rhoads after a large spike after he took over. Whether or not this is indicative of a trend remains to be seen, but given a new athlete success center and a state of the art football facility I find few excuses for this program to not remain well above the standard required.

What About Those Basketball Transfers? They Have to be Hurting ISU, Right?

Might as well add another notch to the Dreamypost right now. Not only did Fred Hoiberg keep his transfers out of trouble while they were in Ames, but he turned around a sorry state of affairs for basketball. In comes Hoiberg flashing his smile to a few professors and BAM, APR fixed.

2011-2012: 958

2010-2011: 958

2009-2010: 875

2008-2009: 980

One component of the APR is that a school is not dinged for an outgoing transfer if they leave the school in good academic standing. When players like Chris Colvin, LaRon Dendy, and Lucca Staiger (mid-semester!) leave school in poor academic standing it hurts a program's APR. Right now the four-year average is 949 and should only climb going forward.

Awesome, Now What About the Other Sports?

It appears all those dead space filling press releases from the AD in the summer serve a purpose. Iowa State's non-revenue sports are doing fantastic in the APR. Here are the highlights:

Men's Cross Country: Four-year APR of 977, 2011-2012 APR of 1,000 (i.e., Perfect)

Men's Golf & Indoor/Outdoor Track: 2011-2012 APR of 1,000

Women's Basketball: Four-year APR of 985

Women's Golf: Four-year APR of 991, 2011-2012 APR of 1,000

Gymnastics: Four-year APR of 995, 2011-2012 APR of 1,000

Tennis: 1,000 for four-year and 2011-2012

Volleyball: Four-year APR of 985

That's Great, Now What?

The coaches are in place, the structure is in place, and the money is coming in the doors. As long as the right people are in place in the AD the academic situation should be strong moving forward.