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Understanding the APR

Jul 3, 2013, 7:52 AM EDT

On June 11, 2013, the NCAA released their new APR statistics. We asked the University of Notre Dame Compliance Office to help explain it…

The NCAA recently released its 2013 Academic Progress Rate (APR) data and, once again, Notre Dame fared extremely well.  APR is one of the most popular means of measuring academic success in college athletics, and it is fun to brag to our friends about Notre Dame’s academic success, but what is the APR?  Technically, APR is the sum of a team’s earned eligibility and earned retention points divided by the sum of the maximum possible eligibility and retention points a team can earn each year, and then scaled to a thousand.  Let’s break that down.  Each grant-in-aid student-athlete (that is, no walk-ons) on a team receives one eligibility point for every semester that he or she maintains academic eligibility and one retention point for every semester that he or she remains enrolled at the institution.  In an effort to avoid penalizing a school for certain transfers, an institution does not have to include in its APR data a student-athlete who transfers to another 4-year institution after at least one year with the original institution and who transfers with a cumulative GPA of 2.6 or higher.


The best way to really understand APR is to give an example.  Let’s suppose a specific team at Notre Dame has 20 scholarship athletes.   The maximum possible eligibility points that team can receive in a given year is 40, i.e., 1 point per student-athlete per semester. The same applies for possible retention points, so the maximum retention points for this team would also be 40. The first semester goes well, and all 20 student-athletes are eligible and remain at Notre Dame.  However, suppose in the second semester of that year, two student-athletes fail to maintain academic eligibility under NCAA and/or the institution’s standards, and one leaves Notre Dame with a cumulative GPA of 2.45 and enrolls at a different university.  This fictitious team will lose 2 eligibility points and 1 retention point for the year, thus earning a total of 38 eligibility points and 39 retention points for that year. Once the numbers are crunched (38 + 39 / 80 * 1000), this team closes the year with an annual APR rate of 962.  In the APR world, this process is applied over the last four years to find the Multiyear APR Rate in each sport at each institution.


Notably, the nature of the eligibility point results in a failure to compare “apples to apples” within Division I.  While at most institutions, the eligibility points reflect solely the NCAA’s minimal requirements regarding progress toward degree, Notre Dame and some other institutions impose an additional eligibility requirement on their student-athletes in the form of a minimum GPA for each semester.


So how do the Irish stack up, you ask?  Despite the higher eligibility standards imposed on student-athletes at Notre Dame, the Irish ranked #1 with a perfect score in 12 sports: Men’s Basketball, Cross Country/Track and Field, Fencing, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Tennis, Women’s Cross Country, Golf, Softball, and Swimming. Hockey earned 2nd place, while Men’s Soccer, Men’s Swimming and Diving, and Women’s Rowing took 3rd, and 19 of our sports overall landed in the top 10. On the whole, an academic performance that we should feel free to brag about!

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