UT Athletics scores well in first NCAA academic evaluation report
AUSTIN, Texas -- The University of Texas men's and women's athletics programs passed the first round of the NCAA's initial Academic Progress Rate data, released today. Eighteen of the university's 19 sponsored programs scored above the pre-determined benchmark. It is important to note that: (1) penalties (loss of scholarships) will not be assessed until next year; and (2) no UT scholarships would have been lost had the system been in place now.
"We whole-heartedly support student-athlete academic achievement and efforts to enhance performance through accurate national standards," UT Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds said. "This is obviously an issue we take seriously. But this initial release of APR data by the NCAA is a work-in-progress and an entirely new program of evaluating academic success.
"We're just not sure how accurate a reflection this is of each individual sport and the respective challenges each sport presents. We know it doesn't take into account individual personal circumstances like if a student-athlete transfers for lack of playing time, gets homesick or leaves and pursues professional opportunities," Dodds said.
"Our men's basketball program is a good example - its score fell below the mark because it is based on several participants who left school early for the pros. No one should be penalized for that, and that is just one element the NCAA will consider fixing this summer," Dodds said. "When programs have success, as ours have, more student-athletes will leave school early for professional careers. Baseball will suffer the most if this is not solved, since so many baseball players get drafted after their junior year."
This new form of academic evaluation highlights retention and eligibility, said Texas Women's Athletics Director Chris Plonsky. "The goal of achieving progress toward an undergraduate degree should ultimately result in improved graduation rates," she said.
Plonsky called the APR, "a new tool to assess where we are academically to determine our individual achievement or needs and where we ultimately want to be individually and collectively."
Plonsky added "we must take into account that this initial release of information represents only a trial run based on data from one year. These results will mean more as we move into years three and four. The NCAA has also agreed to take up appropriate adjustments to the APR benchmark for teams with a small squad size, which is needed."
In addition to providing an annual investment of almost $2 million for student academic services like counseling and facilities, Dodds said the university remains committed to working at the grassroots level and "that's why we will continue to advocate that the NCAA re-examines initial eligibility and strengthens those requirements immediately."
TEXAS COACHES RESPOND TO THE NCAA'S NEW APR SYSTEM
We place a great deal of importance on education in our football program and this gives us another tool to gauge that progress. The APR system certainly isn't foolproof and it's something we will monitor over time to determine how well it works and where it can be adjusted, but retention is obviously a really significant factor in educating our kids.
With that said, we're really pleased with the overall academic success we've had since we came here and very excited about how well the kids did as a whole in the classroom last fall. We're also happy to see that some of our kids will benefit from a great education, go on to make a lot of money playing professionally and then graduate over time and unfortunately that's a factor isn't reflected in any of the academic ratings.
Jody Conradt, Women's Basketball
Rick Barnes, Men's Basketball
I want student-athletes who come play for us at The University of Texas to want it all. I want student-athletes who want an education. Truth be told, there's a lot involved in this, and it's not just what happens in the classroom. I want our players to be exposed to a lot of different things during their time here, and I want them to be prepared to chase their dreams when they leave. When I look back at the roster of young men who have been through this program during our time here, I feel confident that we are doing just that. I'm not sure there's any way to reflect that in an academic rating system.
Augie Garrido, Baseball