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BOGACZYK: Herd's APR Numbers Continue to Climb

May 27, 2015

By JACK BOGACZYK

HERDZONE.COM COLUMNIST

            HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Marshall University Athletics continued its recent positive trend in a crucial national measurement.

            When the NCAA revealed the Division I Academic Progress Rate numbers for 2013-14 on Wednesday afternoon, Marshall's multiyear figures were the Herd's most impressive since college athletics' governing organization began tracking the APR with the 2004-05 school year.

            On May 20, the Thundering Herd tennis and outdoor track and field teams received public recognition with other Division I programs in the top 10 percent nationally in their sports in the multiyear measurement -- perfect 1000 scores.

            Marshall got more good news one week later, when the NCAA revealed national APR numbers in single-year and multiyear rates -- the latter over a four-year span, or 2010-11 through 2013-14.

            The multiyear scores for Herd football, men's basketball, men's golf, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field were the highest for the school in the 10 years the NCAA has utilized the APR.

            Tennis and women's cross country matched their 10-year highs, and women's basketball had its best score since 2006-07 (see chart below).

            Eight programs posted perfect single-year scores of 1000 in the NCAA's retention measurement, with two others at 986. Eleven of the 16 programs had perfect 2013-14 scores in eligibility/graduation.

            In both the single-year (2013-14) and multiyear rates, 10 of the 16 Marshall sports programs showed increases or APR numbers that stayed the same. Ten of the 16 Herd teams had multiyear rates of 975 or higher.

            In the single-year measurement, men's cross country, men's golf, women's basketball, women's cross country, women's soccer, swimming and diving and tennis posted perfect 1000 scores.

            Comparing the Herd multiyear rates to the national multiyear-rate averages, Marshall topped that national average in nine of its 16 sports -- football, softball, tennis, indoor track, outdoor track, men's cross country, men's golf, women's soccer and women's cross country.

            And there is optimism that the numbers will continue to improve. The Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program -- the academic advising wing of the Herd -- is moving into its new 14,100-square foot home in the coming weeks.

            The new Harless home -- featuring more than 90 computer work stations -- is located on the second floor of the Chris Cline Athletic Complex, adjacent to the indoor facility.

            "I am truly pleased with the continued academic excellence that our student-athletes have shown," said Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick, who is finishing his sixth year as the AD at his alma mater. "It is a testament to, not only their hard work, but a credit to the emphasis placed on it by our coaching staffs and everyone in the Buck Harless Student-Athlete Program.

            "Our athletics department has continually made student-athlete retention one of our top priorities and these numbers show that. With the new academic center opening soon, that will only strengthen our efforts and we look forward to 2015-16."

            Marshall's average for multiyear APR rose from 975 last year to 978. The NCAA reported that the multiyear national average from 2013-14 for the Division I APR also is 978.

            "These scores signify a continuing trend of academic achievement by our student-athletes, and a commitment by coaches, staff and administrators throughout the university to provide a well-rounded college experience," said Andrew Donovan, the Herd's associate athletic director for compliance. "That's reflected in eight of our teams achieving perfect marks in retention."

            Donovan gave plenty of credit to advisors in the Harless Program, headed by Director Tara Helton, with advisors Jillian Boys, AJ Hubbard, Samantha Spurlock and Ashley Parsons.

            "The continued improvement in our APR shows the dedication and commitment Marshall athletics has to academics," Helton said. "Our coaches and support staff are committed to making it a positive academic experience, and our student-athletes work hard.

            "The APR is a real-time measurement and it gives you that real-time snapshot of what's going on the classroom, and it also shows our student-athletes are remaining with us through the process. Our retention is strong.

            "It's a multiyear measurement. You have an opportunity to build your APR when kids are committed to being here and staying here. And our coaches and support staff are committed to making it a strong academic experience for them."

            Helton said the school-record multiyear numbers for football and men's basketball and the fact that 10 programs have multiyear scores of 975 above show that the Herd's design to mix academics and athletics is working.

            "Those numbers show we're finding the right balance, and we're well on the way to seeing those numbers increasing," Helton said. "It's a testament to our athletes working hard, our coaches working hard and our Buck Harless support staff working hard.

            "A plan has to be in place for these kids. I refer to it as my `academic gameplan,' because it's equally important to have a plan off the field as well as on the field or the floor or the court, whatever's the case. And I think you're seeing a lot of good, hard work going into laying a strong foundation in that academic gameplan.

            "We're proud of the athletes, the coaches, the support staff, and I think the numbers will continue to trend upward as we move into one of the best academic facilities in the country."

            A look at some Herd APR highlights:

            *The multiyear rate for Herd football rose by 11 points, to an all-time high of 959. The single-year rate rose from 975 to 982 for Coach Doc Holliday's program -- and football has made a 54-point climb in the last three years. The single-year, national average for FBS and FCS programs is 956.

            *In men's basketball, a 955 multiyear rate was a 25-point increase, and a 979 single-year number increased from 940.

            *The women's basketball perfect single-year number was a climb from 957. The multiyear 959 for Coach Matt Daniel's program was up from 932.

            *Coach John Mercer's tennis program has had a perfect multiyear 1000 for four straight years, and five times in 10 years.

            *The Herd's 1000 multiyear score in outdoor track and field -- under 20-year MU Coach Jeff Small -- is the first by a Conference USA men's or women's track program since 2009-10.

            For 2015-16 competition, teams must earn a 930 four-year average APR to compete in NCAA championships. All Marshall teams currently are above that threshold in the APR measurements announced Wednesday.

            The NCAA holds Division I institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through the Academic Progress Rate, a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete over each term.

            The APR provides a real-time look at a team's academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation and provides a measure of each team's academic performance.

            Every Division I school calculates its APR each academic year. Scholarship student-athletes each semester receive one point for remaining eligible and one point for staying in school or graduating. Teams scoring below certain thresholds can face consequences, including practice restrictions and playing season reductions.

            The NCAA also provides APR adjustments for student-athletes who transfer to another four-year school after earning a 2.6 grade point average and those who leave in good academic standing for professional sports careers. 

            A look at Marshall's single-year (2013-14) and multiyear APR rates reported Wednesday by the NCAA:

 

Sport

2013-14

Multiyear

Baseball

951

948

Basketball (M)

979

955

Cross Country (M)

1000

993

Football

982

959

Golf (M)

1000

985

Soccer (M)

921

960

Basketball (W)

1000

959

Cross Country (W)

1000

990

Golf (W)

969

975

Soccer (W)

1000

994

Softball

960

982

Swimming

1000

982

Tennis

1000

1000

Track (Indoor)

993

996

Track (Outdoor)

993

1000

Volleyball

960

963

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