Local schools score well with NCAA
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Sports teams at local Division I schools are doing well enough in the classroom to avoid the wrath of the NCAA.
All but one team at five local Division I schools -- Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Duquesne and Robert Morris -- scored high enough on the NCAA's annual Academic Progress Rate report to avoid potential penalties. The only team to score below that threshold, the Robert Morris women's basketball team, was exempt from punishment.
The NCAA released Tuesday its most recent APR scores, which measures every Division I team's eligibility and retention of scholarship athletes.
Each team measures its APR every year, but the NCAA observes only a team's four-year average APR score in deciding whether to penalize a program. The current scores reflect the 2006-07 school year through the 09-10 school year.
A perfect APR score is 1,000, and teams scoring below 925 can be subject to penalties, including scholarship losses, practice restrictions and championship bans. The NCAA average was 970, up three points from last year.
Teams can score less than 925 and avoid penalties if they qualify for one of a variety of exemptions. Most teams that score below 925 are not penalized. Most teams that scored below 900 are penalized.
Last year, the West Virginia rowing team and Robert Morris football team incurred scholarship penalties for substandard APR scores.
The Mountaineers rowing team increased its multi-year APR score to 938, up from 915 last year.
"I am pleased that all of our teams exceeded the 925 benchmark and that our average score continues to climb each year," athletic director Oliver Luck said in a statement.
West Virginia's 17 teams averaged a four-year APR score of 974.
The Robert Morris football team increased its multi-year APR score to 935, up from 923 last year. The Colonials do not award enough football scholarships for last year's penalty to have an effect.
The Colonials women's basketball team had a multi-year APR score of 913, the only Robert Morris program with a score below 925. But the team was not penalized because it did not have what the NCAA calls any "0-for-2 athletes" Coleman said.
An 0-for-2 athlete is one who is not eligible for competition and no longer attends the school, either because he or she transfers or leaves school for other reasons.
The women's basketball team had a single-year APR score of 980, and Coleman said he expects the four-year average to improve in the future.
The average APR score for all Robert Morris teams was 966.
"When we say at Robert Morris we are holding true to the student-athlete term, this is certainly being borne out by these numbers," Coleman said.
At Pitt, the average APR score of its 19 varsity teams was 975. The lowest-scoring team, football, had a 949 APR score. The men's basketball team scored 985, and the gymnastics team scored 1,000.
Thirteen of Pitt's 19 teams improved their scores from last year.
"Any credit I give to the academic support staff, the coaches and the student-athletes," said Dan Bartholomae, Pitt's associate athletic director for compliance.
Pitt's academic support service works with student-athletes but reports directly to the provost, which Bartholomae said reflects the university's commitment to academic excellence among student-athletes.
Penn State scored the best of all local schools with an average APR score of 982. Five Penn State teams earned perfect scores.
Duquesne did not have any four-year perfect scores, but it had the second highest average APR score -- 981 -- of any local school.
"We're really excited," Duquesne athletic director Greg Amodio said. "Our student-athletes work very, very hard, as well as our staff, which provides the resources they need to succeed."
Amodio said Duquesne's scores reflect the academic quality of the student-athletes and, if they struggle, the strength of the school's academic support system.
The NCAA implemented the APR system in 2005 after several coaches complained that the previous academic measures, which did not factor in players who left school to play professionally, were unfair.
Nationwide, the NCAA penalized six BCS teams for poor academic marks.
A record nine teams nationwide were banned from championship play, meaning they scored below 900 for three consecutive years. All were football or men's basketball teams, though none belong to a major conference.
First Published May 25, 2011 12:00 am