Scholarship athletes at Virginia and Virginia Tech continue to outperform their peers in the classroom to ensure postseason eligibility for the Cavaliers and Hokies in all sports.
The NCAA last week released team-by-team Academic Progress Rates for Division I schools — the calculation is based on semester-by-semester retention and graduation — and no program at U.Va. or Tech approached the threshold for sanctions.
Teams must have a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in postseason — the current rates are for the 2009-10 through 2012-13 academic years.
The only programs that appear to be at risk in the next few years are Virginia Tech women’s indoor and outdoor track, and coach Dave Cianelli, whose academic record is first-rate, is confident those teams will be fine. More on that in a moment. First, some broad numbers
At Virginia, 22 of 25 sports have multi-year APRs of 975 or better. The exceptions are 945 for men’s basketball, 956 for football and 958 for men’s soccer.
The men’s basketball rate is second-to-last in the ACC and 12 points below the national average. But that number is dragged down by an 833 in 2009-10, Tony Bennett’s first season as coach, when several players who were not in good academic standing left the program. Subsequent scores of 1,000, 976 and 980 forecast a significant bump for Virginia’s future four-year averages.
Football’s 956 multi-year APR is one below the Bowl Subdivision average and ahead of only Louisville’s 947 and North Carolina’s 938 in the ACC. But similar to men’s basketball, football’s score should improve next year, when the 933 rate of 2009-10 falls off the rolling average.
Thirteen Cavaliers teams attained perfect single-year APRs of 1,000 in 2012-13: Men’s swimming, cross country and tennis; women’s cross country, tennis, basketball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, indoor and outdoor track, and volleyball.
At Virginia Tech, 19 of 21 sports have multi-year APRs of at least 960, with football’s 977 ranking fifth in the ACC behind Duke’s 992, Clemson’s 983, Georgia Tech’s 983 and Boston College’s 981. Five teams — men’s and women’s tennis, softball, women’s soccer and men’s golf — had perfect scores for 2012-13.
Tech’s lowest scores are the aforementioned women’s indoor and outdoor track at 942 and 948, respectively. Moreover, the trend lines for those teams are not good.
For indoor, the most recent four single-year scores are 1,000, 952, 918 and 914. So the 1,000 comes off the books next spring when the new four-year average is calculated. Similarly, outdoor’s most recent rates are 1,000, 950, 944 and 914.
In short, both need APRs of approximately 933 or better for the 2013-14 academic year — those numbers will be released next spring — to avoid possible postseason ineligibility in 2015-16.
Cianelli has coached the Hokies’ men’s and women’s track and cross country programs for 13 years and to a combined eight ACC championships, and he believes the women’s numbers will increase significantly.
“What happened was we had a two-year period where we had a significant number (of athletes) dismissed or transferred,” he said. “I think it was kind of an anomaly. … We’re much more stable now.”
The data supports Cianelli’s analysis. His women’s indoor program posted average APRs of 967 for the eight classes prior to 2011-12 and 2012-13. The outdoor team’s average for those eight classes was 971.
Transfers and dismissals hurt Cianelli’s APR in two ways. Each exit cost his programs not only a retention point but also an eligibility point, since the athletes left with GPAs of less than 2.6. Those who depart with GPAs of at least 2.6 — a rather high benchmark that Cianelli would like to see modified — still earn their team an eligibility point.
“I’m monitoring this very closely with (associate athletic director Chris Helms),” Cianelli said. “I take full responsibility for the years where we had a low number because the individuals we bring into the program — ultimately, that’s my decision. … We had some young ladies that were not good fits, that didn’t work out, and I have to take responsibility for that.”
Some other APR nuggets:
* North Carolina ranks last among ACC schools in football and men’s basketball APRs. Both sports are at 938, with basketball more at risk because of the 961 for 2009-10 that comes off the books when next spring’s four-year average is calculated.
* Set to join the ACC in July, Louisville has absolutely no APR issues. Football’s 947 four-year average is the lowest among the Cardinals’ 23 teams, and that number is likely to rise next spring when the 872 from 2009-10 is removed from the calculation.
Louisville men’s basketball under Rick Pitino is among seven major-conference programs with perfect four-year APRs of 1,000. The others are Indiana, Stanford, Florida, Kansas, Texas and Memphis.
William and Mary, Belmont, Bucknell, Colgate, Cornell and Penn also have 1,000 four-year APRs in men’s basketball.
* Losing athletes to transfer or early entry to the pros does not sentence a team to a low APR. In the last four years, Kentucky basketball’s scores under John Calipari have been 979, 979, 977 and 1,000.
Here are the four-year football and men’s basketball APRs for the ACC.
Duke 992, Georgia Tech and Clemson 983, Boston College 981, Virginia Tech 977, Miami 972, Wake Forest 970, Syracuse 965, Pittsburgh 961, Florida State 958, Virginia 956, North Carolina State 950, Louisville 947, North Carolina 938.
Louisville 1,000, Duke, Notre Dame and Pitt 995, Miami 990, Georgia Tech 989, Clemson 989, Syracuse 969, Virginia Tech 960, N.C. State 959, Florida State 955, Wake Forest 953, Boston College 951, Virginia 945, North Carolina 938.
You can access APRs by school, team, conference and coach in the NCAA's database.
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