Bad APR putting Vols in a hole

Baseball team out to improve standing

Baseball, more than other, is a game of statistics. There’s ERA, RBI, LOB, etc. In Tennessee’s case, APR might be overshadowing all the others.

As the Vols open a weekend SEC series with Mississippi State tonight at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, UT fans are wondering when their team is ever going to win another SEC game.

At 13-20 overall and 1-11 in the SEC, Tennessee is on pace for its worst season since 1989, after which coach Mark Connor was replaced by Rod Delmonico.

But athletic director Mike Hamilton is firmly behind second-year coach Todd Raleigh because he knows the Vols are not playing with a full deck.

That’s where the APR — the Academic Progress Rate — comes in.

Several years ago the NCAA introduced the APR as an academic guideline to boost graduation rates. All programs must meet a standard or suffer penalties.

Last May the first penalties were announced, based on academic results compiled over the previous four years. The breaking point for penalties on the NCAA’s scale was a score of 925. Tennessee four-year baseball score from 2004-2007 was 879, according to NCAA data.

In all sports nationwide, 218 programs were penalized. Tennessee and California-Riverside were the only baseball programs hit with the maximum penalty: a 10 percent reduction in scholarships for the 2008-09 year.

UT men’s basketball was also docked. Coach Bruce Pearl’s team played with 12 scholarships last season instead of 13.

Baseball teams are allowed 11.7 scholarships, so a 10 percent reduction left the Vols with 10.53 scholarships to divide among a roster of 35.

Since a baseball scholarship can be split among as many as four players (25 percent is the minimum share allowed), the penalty could be said to cost UT four players.

“We had to get a grip on this,’’ said Raleigh, who was hired from Western Carolina to replace Delmonico in 2007.

“We’ve been dealing with that literally since I got here. I don’t see it really being a big issue in the future once we get out of this.’’

But it is a big issue now, when wins are hard to find. The Vols (13-20, 1-11 SEC) have a nine-game SEC losing streak and have recently lost mid-week games to Appalachian State and ETSU.

Raleigh said he rarely if ever fields a lineup of his eight position players that adds up to two scholarships.

Considering that outfielder Kentrail Davis is on nearly a full scholarship, that doesn’t leave much for the other seven.

“I don’t know if there’s a game this year we’ve had more than two out there,’’ Raleigh said.

“That’s not an excuse. … We’ve had some things happen to us and we need to deal with them better. A little more depth would be better, but we don’t have it.’’

The penalty is based on data compiled during Delmonico’s last four years. And, Hamilton said, it was a consideration in his decision to let go a coach who had taken the Vols to the College World Series three times.

“We were in a position where if we didn’t turn that train around, we were headed for penalties in more than just baseball,’’ Hamilton said.

“The next step in the progression is that some other sports can be penalized as well.’’

But Hamilton also says Delmonico was in a tough position when the APR was introduced because baseball is a particularly transient sport and thus vulnerable to lower graduation rates.

“In Rod’s defense,’’ Hamilton said, “the reality is that depending on where you were, baseball’s APR could become problematic quickly.’’

The Vols surpassed the 925 mark in Raleigh’s first season and are on track to do so again if the spring semester ends well. There is legitimate hope this will be the last year of the penalty.

If so, Raleigh looks forward to focusing on baseball and recruiting.

“For now, I feel like I walk on eggshells every day because of the academic thing,’’ he said. “You worry about every decision you make.’’

And when you’re not winning, every decision is scrutinized more closely by a disgruntled fan base. Who’s batting lead-off today? What’s up with the pitching rotation?

“I think we’re close right now,’’ Raleigh said. “People say, ‘Oh, you’re far away, the record’s not good,’ but we don’t really think we’re far away at all.

“I like the culture of the program. I like where our kids are going with it.’’

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Comments » 22

justingh1 writes:

I never reailzed that the scholarships for baseball were so few. Why don't they offer a higher percentage of scholarships? Is the number available NCAA mandated or does the school determine? I like Raleigh's attitude so I hope he gets it turned around.

Volumnus writes:

in response to justingh1:

I never reailzed that the scholarships for baseball were so few. Why don't they offer a higher percentage of scholarships? Is the number available NCAA mandated or does the school determine? I like Raleigh's attitude so I hope he gets it turned around.

To my knowledge the only self supporting baseball program in D 1 college is at Rice, which draws more people annually than most minor league teams. So baseball is a losing ticket in the sports race. Particularly with title 9 dividing up the losing money, baseball, golf, tennis and track are typically split scholarships. Most schools have only walk-on golf teams, with most of them not having to give scholarships at all any more. Baseball is rapidly working in that direction. In the next 10 years, Football and basketball will probably be the only men's sports with scholarships at all. It is an economic market driven issue. And that is with the women's program at UT being the most successful in the country. Joan Cronin has done a great job with funding. Other schools are in much worse shape. Your two problem areas for low graduation rates are baseball and basketball. Each time a student leaves early, it impacts schoarships. Eventually coaches will wise up and find role players who are smart, good students and will stay 4 years. Engineers are going to be in vogue in the next 5 years or so. So if you know of a good engineering student who is a point guard send him to CBP. He can get a jump on the wave of the future.... urban studies' days are numbered.

BillsBrother writes:

in response to justingh1:

I never reailzed that the scholarships for baseball were so few. Why don't they offer a higher percentage of scholarships? Is the number available NCAA mandated or does the school determine? I like Raleigh's attitude so I hope he gets it turned around.

The NCAA allows each division 1 baseball program 11.78 scholarships.
The NCAA allows each division 1 softball program 12 scholarships.

olevole writes:

It makes me sad to see a once proud program put up such sorry and flimsy excuses for failure. Our Vols include several National Team Trials invitees, at least one player who was a freshman All-American (Lockwood), and many other top players. They also have one of the most respected pitching coaches in the game. Unfortunately, someone is having a hard time positively motivating this elite talent and working with highly competent professionals.

It is plainly dishonest to claim that losses to ETSU, Appy State, and Upper South Carolina are due to a shortage of talent-since those teams have less than a third of the talent of our Vols.

Even more sad is the fact that during the next three years, the schools in East Tennessee will be graduating some of the most amazing players to play in this area. The way things are heading they will not want to play for a losing program where tawdry excuses demean the abilities of fine young men and good ballplayers.

ajbake writes:

in response to Volumnus:

To my knowledge the only self supporting baseball program in D 1 college is at Rice, which draws more people annually than most minor league teams. So baseball is a losing ticket in the sports race. Particularly with title 9 dividing up the losing money, baseball, golf, tennis and track are typically split scholarships. Most schools have only walk-on golf teams, with most of them not having to give scholarships at all any more. Baseball is rapidly working in that direction. In the next 10 years, Football and basketball will probably be the only men's sports with scholarships at all. It is an economic market driven issue. And that is with the women's program at UT being the most successful in the country. Joan Cronin has done a great job with funding. Other schools are in much worse shape. Your two problem areas for low graduation rates are baseball and basketball. Each time a student leaves early, it impacts schoarships. Eventually coaches will wise up and find role players who are smart, good students and will stay 4 years. Engineers are going to be in vogue in the next 5 years or so. So if you know of a good engineering student who is a point guard send him to CBP. He can get a jump on the wave of the future.... urban studies' days are numbered.

"urban studies' days are numbered." how so? in 2007, for the first time in the history of humans, more people live in urban areas than rural areas. i would argue urban studies will become more important in the future.

Futurecoach16 writes:

To all the Delmonico lovers: That is why Delmonico "worked through" the APR issue. He was fired before the penalties took place. While the current situation is not good be any definition of the word, I do firmly believe Raleigh will get the program to a competitive stage. He has already set higher standards off the field that the players who played for Delmonico never had, which in turn will be reflected on the field in time. To quote the box-office hit "The Dark Knight": "The night is always darkest just before the dawn." Give him 2 more years.

Couchdummy writes:

in response to ajbake:

"urban studies' days are numbered." how so? in 2007, for the first time in the history of humans, more people live in urban areas than rural areas. i would argue urban studies will become more important in the future.

AJ, the urban studies major is not an in-depth education on how to manage urban growth and development! It is more like training guys to trend traffic patterns by counting cars that go through an intersection all day!

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to rabidvolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

the only time Delmonico ever did anything was when his contract was up for negotiation. Look it up. Raliegh is not the answer but neither was Rod.

VOLinATL writes:

in response to Futurecoach16:

To all the Delmonico lovers: That is why Delmonico "worked through" the APR issue. He was fired before the penalties took place. While the current situation is not good be any definition of the word, I do firmly believe Raleigh will get the program to a competitive stage. He has already set higher standards off the field that the players who played for Delmonico never had, which in turn will be reflected on the field in time. To quote the box-office hit "The Dark Knight": "The night is always darkest just before the dawn." Give him 2 more years.

I think the Mamas & Papas had that line in a sing 40 years ago: "The darkest hour is just before the dawn"

Kids.....

Vols_1Always writes:

No Excuses-
What difference does it make if you have ever coached or played D-1 baseball, that is a cop out from past wanna be that your D-1 Culture cannot be learned by outside fans, I presume you cannot learn spansih or undersatnd there culture because you are not a Spainard????

This article is nothing more than Hamilton's Propoganda Police working their a-- off to make Todd Raleigh look like he is severely crippled in his efforts to turn this program around.

CrankE writes:

in response to ButchIsBack:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wasn't Hamilton, "firmly behind (insert coach here)" Buzz Petersen and Philip Fulmer?

Firmly Behind is what you do before you push someone over. It's a euphemism for, "I've got both hands on his rib cage, my feet planted, and my center of gravity ready to push him into the street in front of this oncoming K-Trans bus."

doh writes:

I believe you have to give a coach a little time to put their team together. They gave Buzz a few years and also wade Houston. If things dont start to improve next year then no more excuses should be had.

Volunatic writes:

The excuse-makers are out in full force. (Another parallel with the first couple of Buzz-ball years, oddly.)
I'll admit-- I don't know the first thing about coaching baseball. I do know, however, that 1-11 is a terrible SEC record, whether a program is "rebuilding" or not. I also know that it's a disgrace to see UT baseball being owned by programs like W. Carolina and ETSU.

Volunatic writes:

in response to A_VOICE_OF_REASON:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So Pearl SHOULDN'T kick the players off the team when they repeatedly fail drug tests?

golfaok writes:

in response to no_excuses:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am a fan and begin attending games in the mid 90's and have been seson ticket holders since 2000. Me and my wife are there ever game rain or shine. The problem is we did not need to rebuild. We just needed to get our APR in line. Mr. Hamilton did not give the previous coaching staff a chance to do that. He instead went out and hired a coach that has no personilty and could care less if any fans were at the game or not. He started out this fall saying we had all the tools he needed to be competive this year praised his players. Now that he is not winning he is using the APR as an excuse. He is a terrible coach because he took over making all the calls starting with the Florida series. We are 0 & 9 in SEC play since he did that. He calls all the pitches, calls all the take signs and if you know anything about baseball you never have the take sign on 2&0 or 3&1 count but he does it all the time. He gets his players in bad situations and it sets them up to fail. So is it the APR fought that his players has no chance to succeed because how he handles the team. Yea he had a little success at a smaller school but he is now in the SEC and you see what they will do to you if do not know what you are doing. He has some good quality players on the team, but you keep putting them in bad situations they are going to fail on the field.

FLAVOLS writes:

in response to UTfan4life:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey kid, you're an idiot and have absolutely no clue.

vick3333 writes:

Hamilton and Raleigh are being moronic and disengenuous.....we had a lot of guys sign and left school early...meaning the better your players the more chance of a low APR....all schools have the same challenge with the # of scholarships....usually the pitchers get a high % scholarship....you can see why in state players are so important because they are the ones that fill out the roster....this guy is the biggest loser and has more excuses....they are not even competitive in mid-week games....Davis played great on team USA an he had him batting 6th in the lin-up a couple of games ago.....UT deserves one of the best coaches in the country not some lard butt from W. Carolina!

Vols_1Always writes:

ASk any coach in the game except CTR and they will tell you 2 things, 1. Fred Corral is one ofthe best pitching coaches in the country, 2. You do not take away the pitch calling duties from the pitching coach in the the middle of the season. CTR is setting up Corral to be an excuse and take the fall at the end of the season,between Corral and the all the sudden talk of the "APR" propoganda, CTR and Hammy hope this will displace some of the heat from the disgruntled fan base.

CTR is a liar saying he has not had 2 Full Scholarships on the field at the same time, and as for 2 pitchers who are on Full Rides that have not combined to pitch one full inning, well that is his damn fault. When he came in before last season he went through and evaluated and adjusted several players scholardships.

loudonloudmouth writes:

If most of the posters that defend Raleigh ever attended a game and would ask a parent of a current player they would get the real scoop. I have found that it does not matter if a kid is playing or not the parent will tell you their kid is very unhappy and can not stand playing for Raleigh. Can you imagine what these same parents are telling the visiting recruits? Go back and read the preseason quotes at Rivals, SEC preview and Go Vols Xtra and all Raeligh praies is how good the team will be. When you read his stupid quotes you don't expect him to tell everyone that his players hate him and have quit playing for my stupid A#$. APR excuses and lack of scholarships weren't being mentioned until the berating of his players, and coaching staff started working against him. How does a pitcher pitch or hitter hit when he gets blasted with insult after insult during the game. Give me a break and can the guy. Ask yourself a question. Is this Tennessee baseball; SEC; D1 or a bush league, little league quak program?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to VOLinATL:

I think the Mamas & Papas had that line in a sing 40 years ago: "The darkest hour is just before the dawn"

Kids.....

Oh, it's a LOT older than even the Mamas and Papas! I'm thinking centuries if not milennia older.

On the topic, I'm not a huge baseball fan at any level, but it seems stupid to me that the APR rule is even applied to baseball. I mean, a baseball player who doesn't go pro out of HS has to wait three years then, right? It seems to me that anybody good enough to play D-I baseball is good enough to go pro SOMEWHERE after three years of college experience, so why WOULDN'T they go as soon as possible if they didn't go after HS?

I'm sure the percentage of pros to total college baseball players is low, but it would have to be an order of magnitude higher than, e.g., pro basketball. It seems to me that college baseball is pretty much screwed in such an environment anyway. And now APR has to be factored in, endangering all OTHER sports on campus?

Tell me again why colleges should even GIVE baseball scholarships under those circumstances. Have I missed anything? I'm not trying to be a smart-azz, I'm just sayin'....

sully95 writes:

Why all of sudden has our pipeline to south Florida recruits gone dry? Last I checked..guys like Javy Herrera, Sean Watson, JP Arencibia, Michael Rivera, Alex Suarez, and Scott Drucker were pretty good....Oh yea, and Yan Gomes who was a Freshman All-American, but Raleigh ran him off because he was a Delmonico guy.

No recruit in the state of TN wants to play for a lethargic jerk who berates his players and staff... much less a recruit from Florida.

Also, how about having a guy who coaches first base and works with outfielders and hitters who never played college baseball. He followed his younger brother's coat-tails to UT and used to sit in the stands and be a heckler. I bet the players really respect his input. If his brother wasn't in the big leagues, he wouldn't be on the staff...period.

stayingorange writes:

Man I hate to look at this as an excuse, but it's at least a good article to give some type of explanation. Hamilton seems set to keep Raleigh for another season so some of the APR problems better be the reason we keep losing this year. I'd still like to see some wins.

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