FAYETTEVILLE — There wasn’t much drama in the unveiling of Arkansas’ latest Academic Progress Rate, which was released by the NCAA on Wednesday afternoon.
But Jon Fagg, who is a senior associate athletic director, wasn’t complaining.
The Razorbacks have had enough to last a lifetime the previous few years.
Each of Arkansas’ 19 sports surpassed the NCAA’s benchmark of 930 for the second consecutive year. It included the men’s basketball score of 937, which was the program’s second straight year in the clear after a history of APR struggles.
“As an overall picture, I think we’re on really solid ground,” Fagg said. “It’s taken a couple of years to kind of get everybody on the same page. Not that anybody was on a bad page, but getting everybody on the same page, and now we’re all moving in the same direction. It illustrates itself in not a whole lot of change this year from last year. We did not have a lot of shift. That’s because everybody’s performing well.”
The APR was created to measure a program’s eligibility, retention and graduation of scholarship athletes over a four-year period in each sport. Those programs that fall below the 930 cutline over a four-year period are subjected to penalties like loss of scholarships, practice time or even postseason bans. This year’s APR scores covered the 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.
Arkansas had a handful of teams come close to the cutline, including major revenue-producers like football (935) and men’s basketball (937). Both teams also ranked 13th among SEC programs in the same sports. But Fagg said the Razorbacks are not concerned about either program falling below 930 next year.
“We don’t feel like anybody’s going to drop below 930,” Fagg said. “Even these teams below 940, we track on it, and we anticipate them going up in the long run.”
The men’s basketball program climbed out of its lengthy APR hole last year, notching a program-best score of 951 for 2008-09 to 2011-12. It ended a run in which the Razorbacks produced APR scores below 900 for four straight years, which ultimately resulted in a scholarship loss for the 2011-12 season.
The program did take a small step back during the latest period, sliding from 951 to 937. The biggest reason was a single-year score of 902 for 2012-13. The men’s basketball program was one of four Arkansas sports with single-year scores at or below 900, joining men’s indoor (894) and outdoor (918) track, and women’s tennis (900).
Arkansas would not divulge specific reasons behind the basketball program’s lower single-year score because of student privacy laws, but Arkansas did suffer departures after the season from guard B.J. Young and forward Marshawn Powell. The Razorbacks would not have received eligibility and retention points for the players if they weren’t in good academic standing when they left for pro careers.
Either way, Arkansas is not concerned about the low single-year score in the long run. The Razorbacks had a single-year score of 977 in coach Mike Anderson’s first season (2011-12) and is likely to produce another strong score because of a 2013-14 roster that included five scholarship players who graduated last week.
“We pay attention to any team under 940,” Fagg said. “Pay much closer attention to it. So basketball dropped off a little bit, and their single-year rate wasn’t the best. But we can already anticipate where that’s going. And so we’re very confident they’re not going to have an APR problem in a big picture.”
Fagg said the same about the football program, which had the lowest APR among Arkansas sports. The 935 also ranked among the bottom 10 of BCS conference football teams, but was still five points above the NCAA’s cutline.
The football program has undergone its share of turnover the past few years with three different head coaches in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Fagg believes that played a role in the football program’s APR, but should steady under coach Bret Bielema.
Arkansas had a single-year score of 944 for 2012-13.
“I think given all that we’ve been through the last couple of years, we feel fantastic about the score,” Fagg said. “Coach Bielema sets a similar culture to Coach Anderson. Kids are expected to go to school, expected to take academics seriously. Given what we’ve been through, I think we’re tracking fine. We are not worried.”
Arkansas calculated a program-wide four-year score of 970.2, marking the third-straight year the Razorbacks exceeded 970 as a program. Three teams also received public recognition awards for finishing in the top 10 percent of their sports. Men’s golf, women’s golf and volleyball all earned a perfect score of 1,000 over four years.
Other notable scores include baseball (964) and women’s basketball (937). The programs finished 10th and last among other SEC schools, respectively.
“I’m proud of our coaches, our student-athlete success staff and most importantly our student-athletes for their dedication to academic achievement,” athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement. “We have made remarkable progress, but still have work to do. We will remain steadfast in our efforts to help guide Razorback student-athletes toward graduation and fulfilling our mission of developing student-athletes to their fullest potential through intercollegiate athletics.”
Arkansas’ Academic Progress Rate
The NCAA released the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores for Division I programs Wednesday. The APR is a four-year look at a team’s classroom performance and this year’s data covers the 2009-10 to 2012-13 academic years. It was the second time each of the Razorbacks’ 19 sports posted an APR score above the NCAA’s cutline of 930. Below is a look at each Arkansas sport’s four-year score, as well as its 2012-13 score and Division I average:
Sport – Four-Year - 2012-13 – D1
Baseball – 964 – 956 – 967
Men’s basketball – 937 – 902 – 957
Men’s cross country – 976 – 955 – 977
Football – 935 – 944 – 951
Men’s golf – 1,000 – 1,000 – 975
Men’s tennis – 994 – 978 – 977
Men’s indoor track – 945 – 894 – 967
Men’s outdoor track - 943 – 918 – 969
Women’s basketball – 936 – 939 – 973
Women’s cross country – 973 – 966 – 985
Women’s golf - 1,000 – 1,000 – 985
Gymnastics – 995 – 981 – 990
Soccer – 992 – 980 – 982
Softball – 964 – 959 – 980
Swimming – 995 – 992 – 987
Women’s tennis – 960 – 900 – 983
Women’s indoor track – 959 – 958 – 978
Women’s outdoor track – 965 – 978 – 980
Volleyball – 1,000 – 1,000 – 982