Originally published June 19, 2012 at 03:19p.m., updated June 20, 2012 at 12:51a.m.
The Kansas University men’s basketball team may be riding an unprecedented streak of eight straight Big 12 Conference championships, but that’s not the only streak that has school officials smiling.
Tuesday morning, KU released the results of the most recent Academic Progress Rate numbers from the 2010-11 academic year, and they revealed that head coach Bill Self’s squad had delivered a perfect APR score of 1,000 for the sixth straight year. What’s more, Self later in the day said he expected the 2011-12 APR score to again come in at a perfect 1,000.
In all, KU’s athletic department has two programs (men’s hoops and women’s cross country) with perfect multi-year APR scores (from 2007-08 through 2010-11) and five (men’s hoops, women’s cross country, women’s golf, women’s tennis and volleyball) that recorded the 1,000-point mark during 2010-11.
In addition, all 18 KU athletic programs scored well above the 925 mark that the NCAA considers to be the cut-off point for good academic standing. That number will be elevated to 930 for the 2012-13 academic year, signifying an even greater emphasis by the NCAA on academic performance.
According to Paul Buskirk, KU’s associate athletic director for student-athlete support, every scholarship athlete in each program can earn two points per semester, one for retention and one for eligibility. Although Buskirk said all of KU’s coaches treat the issue very seriously, he praised Bill Self for making academics a priority for his highly successful hoops team.
“That’s where coach Self has been absolutely amazing in his expectations for the kids,” Buskirk said. “He lays it out very clearly as to what has to happen.”
The obvious question here is why don’t the early departures of guys like Thomas Robinson, Josh Selby and Xavier Henry hurt the Jayhawks’ APR number? The answer is simple, Buskirk said.
“There are three (instances in which) a student can leave the institution and the institution would not be penalized for that departure,” he said. “Number 1 is if you transfer to another four-year institution and, when you do, you have a 2.6 GPA. Number 2 is if there’s a documented medical (or) family reason. And then the big one is if a student leaves for a professional sports opportunity.”
In all three instances, the institution is not penalized as long the student-athlete in question would have been eligible had he or she stayed for the next semester.
Asked how Robinson, who is expected to be a top five pick in next week’s NBA Draft, did in that department, Buskirk sat back and smiled.
“I can say generally that Thomas has taken care of business very nicely,” he said.
Self said that he flat-out tells his NBA prospects they better take care of academics ... or else.
“I make a deal with all my guys. It sounds pretty mean to say. We talk about it every first practice: ‘If you leave out of here and in any way, shape or form put us in position to lose a scholarship, then you’ll never be invited back (to KU), ever,’” Self said “At least as long as I’m here. If you don’t care enough about yourself you certainly don’t care enough about the place that has been good to you, then you shouldn’t come back. A lot of schools it’s a problem because kids don’t love the school so much. Here they love the school so much, the place has been so good to them, they have an obligation to do that. That’s why we have 1,000 APR. Those kids that leave know they’ve got to finish before they leave. I’d let everybody know (if a player didn’t finish),” Self added forcefully. “Thomas and those guys handled their stuff. Marcus, Markieff (Morris), Josh (Selby) Xavier (Henry), Cole (Aldrich) ... they all took care of business before the draft.”
As for the school’s other high-profile sport ...
Even though former football coach Turner Gill was fired last November and new coach Charlie Weis cleaned house in terms of players who did not meet his academic standards, it will not be known for another year how Gill’s departure might affect the football program’s APR number.
“Save that question for when we’re sitting here a year from now,” associate AD Jim Marchiony said.
As it stands today, KU football’s multi-year APR score of 971 ranks in the middle of the pack within the department, and its 2010-11 score of 994, which covers Gill’s first year in Lawrence, seems to indicate the football program was in good shape even before Weis came in and raised the bar.
Although both universities and individual coaches are given APR scores, Buskirk said the dismissal of Gill would have no impact on KU’s scores today or in the future.
KU’s multi-year APR numbers by program
• 2010-11 APR number follows in italics
Baseball — 961, 945
Men’s Basketball — 1,000, 1,000
Men’s Cross Country — 994, 984
Football — 971, 994
Men’s Golf — 978, 971
Men’s Track, Indoor — 947, 967
Men’s Track, Outdoor — 942, 934
Women’s Basketball — 982, 932
Women’s Cross Country — 1,000, 1,000
Women’s Rowing — 978, 984
Women’s Golf — 986, 1,000
Softball — 996, 985
Women’s Soccer — 979, 972
Women’s Swimming — 971, 982
Women’s Tennis — 986, 1,000
Women’s Track, Indoor — 963, 961
Women’s Track, Outdoor — 964, 962
Volleyball — 965, 1,000