The University of Kentucky scored well on a day when the NCAA announced positive academic news.
In its latest Academic Progress Rates calculations, the NCAA said the overall multi-year Division I APR was 967, up three points from last year. In the high-profile sports, football’s average four-year APR was 944, up five points over last year; men’s basketball was at 940, up seven points; and baseball was 954, up eight points.
UK rated better than average in all three sports. In men’s basketball, UK had a 954, football 951 and baseball 979.
The men’s cross country team led the way at UK with a perfect 1,000 points, followed by gymnastics (995), women’s soccer (983), softball (979), baseball (979) and women’s outdoor track (977). The marks are a four-year composite, covering the 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years, that measures academic eligibility and retention of student-athletes. The NCAA target score for each sport is 925.
Sandy Bell, the administrator who directs UK athletics’ academic efforts, declined a request to share her reaction. “Sandy doesn’t wish to do any interviews,” spokesman DeWayne Peevy wrote in a text message.
The APR numbers for Kentiucky come after a school year in which the men’s basketball team struggled in the classroom. In the fall and spring semesters, the team posted two of its four poorest grade-point averages since the school began recording that number in the fall of 2001.
UK’s lowest team score this year was 940, meaning that every Wildcat squad tallied at least 15 points above the NCAA benchmark, UK said in a news release.
Seven UK teams notched a perfect 1,000 score for the 2008-09 school year – baseball, men’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, gymnastics, men’s swimming and women’s tennis.
“I’m very pleased with our overall evaluation,” Mitch Barnhart, UK Director of Athletics, said in news release. “Our coaches and support personnel are doing a good job adjusting to the requirements of the APR and we will continue to work toward more success. Most of all, our student-athletes should be commended for their efforts in striving for outstanding performance in the classroom.”
According to a NCAA news release, each Division I sports team calculates its APR each academic year, based on the eligibility and retention of each scholarship athlete. Teams scoring below 925 out of 1,000 can face penalties, such as scholarship losses and restrictions on practice and competition. Rates are based on the past four years’ performance.
This year, 137 teams at 80 schools have been penalized for poor academic performance. Last year, 177 teams at 107 schools received penalties, and two years ago 213 teams at 123 schools were sanctioned. There are currently more than 6,400 teams in Division I, the NCAA said.
Students considered 0-for-2 now account for just 2.5 percent of all Division I student-athletes and are down 27 percent since 2004-05, the NCAA said.