ORONO, Maine — The NCAA is the governing body for intercollegiate athletics in the U.S. As such, it is committed to maintaining high academic standards and helping student-athletes achieve in sports and in the classroom.
The NCAA has three methods by which it evaluates student-athlete academic achievement: Academic Progress Rates (APR), graduation rates and graduation success rates (GSR).
In 2004, the NCAA began monitoring student-athletes’ APR. This measurement provides a “real-time snapshot” of a team’s academic success each semester by looking at the progress of every student-athlete.
The APR takes into consideration eligibility, retention and graduation. The APR is not based solely on whether a student-athlete earned a degree within six years, which previously had been the standard of academic measurement for student-athletes.
Student-athletes are required to finish 40 percent of their degree work by the end of their second year, 60 percent at the end of year three and 80 after year four.
The APR formula awards two points each term to student-athletes who meet NCAA academic eligibility standards and who stay at the institution. A team’s APR is the total points earned by the team for an academic period, divided by the total points possible.
The NCAA determined 925 is the minimum APR score required to avoid penalties.
Each student-athlete may earn a total of four APR points in an academic year. For example, someone who enrolled last fall, achieved the minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA) and who stayed at UMaine for the spring semester is credited with two points.
That student would then gain a third point for staying eligible in the spring and a fourth (4-for-4) for returning to UMaine in the fall.
“I think NCAA has done a good job of emphasizing the importance of academic success and putting structure in place,” University of Maine Director of Athletics Blake James said. “I think the APR in particular helps in addressing that.”
A graduation rate (percent) is based simply on a comparison of the number of students who entered a college and the number who graduated within six years. If 100 students entered and 60 graduated, the graduation rate is 60 percent.
In evaluating graduation rates, which are tabulated by government, the NCAA considers only students who were enrolled in a full-time program of studies for a degree and those who received athletics aid from a college or university for any period of time during their entering (first) year. Athletics aid is defined by the NCAA as “a grant, scholarship, tuition waiver or other assistance from a college or university that is awarded on the basis of a student’s athletic ability.”
It should be pointed out that students who take more than six years to graduate, transfer to another school or are dismissed for academic deficiencies all negatively impact a school’s graduation rate.
The NCAA compiles graduation rates for the most recent six-year period, called the freshman cohort rate. It also calculates a four-class average, which counts all student-athletes enrolling, in this case, in 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Graduation success rates
Graduation Success Rates are similar to the federal graduation rates mentioned above. The distinction comes in how some students are counted.
The GSR allows schools to subtract student-athletes who would have counted against their graduation rate, as long as those student-athletes would have been academically eligible to compete had they remained at the original institution.
UMaine’s GSR, using the four-class average starting with 1999-2000 was 76 percent.