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NCAA raises APR benchmark, to ban poor academic performing teams from playoffs

August 11, 2011

The NCAA placing a greater emphasis on academic performance could make some men’s volleyball team in the future ineligible for the postseason.

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors unanimously voted Thursday to raise the Academic Progress Rate benchmark from 900 to 930 and would require teams to meet the new benchmark in order to participate in the postseason.

“This is about the academic performance of all of our students in all of our sports,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “This is about the academic expectations we have for all of our student-athletes.”

A team’s annual APR score is out of a possible 1,000 points and measures the academic scholastic performance during a four-year period based on the retention and eligibility of each athlete on scholarship. A 930 APR score predicts approximately a 50 percent graduation rate for a team.

The removal of postseason play is a new NCAA penalty for men’s volleyball teams failing to meet its APR benchmark.

Teams in previous years that scored less than a 925 had the potential to receive NCAA penalties ranging from losing scholarships to a reduction in practice time. In addition, the most serious APR penalties were traditionally reserved for teams that scored less than a 900 four-year APR score.

Two men’s volleyball teams — Hawai’i at 924 and Rutgers-Newark at 892 — failed to score more than a 930 on its 2009-10 APR score that was released in May. However, the NCAA changes will not retroactively go into effect and ban the Warriors and Scarlet Raiders from the 2012 postseason.

This was the third time in the last three years that a men’s volleyball team received a scholarship reduction because of its APR score. Rutgers-Newark received almost a 0.50 scholarship reduction in both 2011 and 2010, and George Mason was penalized with a 0.14 scholarship reduction in 2009.

With the new 930 APR benchmark, 12 men’s volleyball teams would have been ineligible for postseason play in the last six years.

The NCAA also directed the Committee on Academic Performance to form more in-depth guidelines for the new academic requirements, including a timeline for phasing-in the implementation of the benchmark and penalty structure.

The changes to the APR benchmark comes after the NCAA’s two-day presidential retreat earlier this week. The retreat focused on academics, fiscal responsibility and integrity issues in college sports.

“We have made some very significant recommendations that we want to turn into action. We will begin working on this immediately,” Emmert said. “We will come before this group no later than October with a clear action agenda to implement the ideas that were developed over the past two days. Some of that action began today.”

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