The men's basketball program continues to carry the torch for the Kansas University athletic department in the annual Academic Progress Rate report, and more turnover in the football offices made an impact on KU football's score.
The men's hoops squad's 995 APR multi-year score led the 18 KU athletic programs when the numbers were released on Wednesday. But it marked the first time in nine years that Bill Self's program did not record a perfect score of 1,000. Despite the slight dip, which Paul Buskirk, KU's associate athletic director for student-athlete support, said came because of points off for retention, the Jayhawks remained one of the best performing teams academically and well above the national average for men's basketball, which Buskirk said was in the 940-950 range.
“I can't talk in terms of personnel issues,” Buskirk said. “But the math says we lost retention points. We had, I believe, five students that left our program last year. We're certainly disappointed because we loved the perfect 1,000, but at the same time we're still extremely proud of the 995. What coach Self has done here is still nothing short of absolutely amazing in keeping them accountable and wanting them to do the right thing.”
All 18 of KU's varsity athletic programs came in well above the 930 number which the NCAA considers “good standing” but three programs — football, men's indoor track and men's outdoor track — were below 930 for the 2013-14 score. Because the NCAA only worries about the four-year, multi-year score, there is no penalty for dropping below 930 in any given academic year, but Buskirk said such numbers certainly catch his eye.
“The primary cause of the 908 for last year is more on the retention, not on the eligibility side,” said Buskirk of KU's football score. “We had a lot of students who were (in the program) when coach (Charlie) Weis was the coach who are no longer here.”
That said, Buskirk is not worried about the number overall because of what he's seen from first-year coach David Beaty during his first semester in charge of the program. And like anyone with anything invested in KU football, Buskirk is hoping Beaty sticks around.
“There's no doubt that the notion of having someone here for a longer period of time will give stability to the roster,” Buskirk said. “And when you have stability in the roster, stability in academics follows.”
A team's annual APR score is a measure of two things: the overall eligibility of its athletes and the retention of those athletes from semester to semester as they pursue their degrees. Each scholarship athlete in every sport has the potential to earn four points per school year. Two points are possible for being eligible and two points are possible for remaining in good academic standing at your school. Once KU gets the numbers for each athlete on each team, the results are then combined to produce each team's overall APR number.
The system came about in 2003 as a new way for universities to track the academic performance of their student-athletes. Until 2003, the only gauges available were team grade-point average and graduation rates. However, researchers discovered that both numbers moved too slowly to matter on a year-to-year basis. Today, with the APR system in place, the numbers are tracked over both a four-year period and on an annual basis, and programs that fall below the NCAA's good-standing mark of 930 face the potential for penalties which range from loss of scholarships to postseason bans.
KU is in no danger of venturing into that territory with any of its athletic programs and Buskirk said several people deserve credit for that.
“It's kids first and it's coaches second, because if they don't back it, it doesn't work,” Buskirk said. “Number 3, I've got the best staff that I could ever ask for. And the last one is, if the faculty doesn't join hands with us, it doesn't work and our faculty are absolutely amazing.”
KU’s multi-year APR numbers by program
(2013-14 number in parentheses)
Baseball — 956 (970)
Men’s Basketball — 995 (959)
Men’s Cross Country — 975 (947)
Football — 945 (908)
Men’s Golf — 985 (1,000)
Men’s Track, Indoor — 954 (926)
Men’s Track, Outdoor — 950 (924)
Women’s Basketball — 956 (957)
Women’s Cross Country — 993 (1,000)
Women’s Rowing — 983 (985)
Women’s Golf — 986 (1,000)
Softball — 978 (973)
Women’s Soccer — 965 (986)
Women’s Swimming — 973 (982)
Women’s Tennis — 969 (968)
Women’s Track, Indoor — 970 (977)
Women’s Track, Outdoor — 970 (978)
Volleyball — 990 (963)