Tennessee football takes another hit in NCAA academic rate, could face serious penalties without improvement

APR is below standard required for bowl in 2014, but UT confident it can be improved

Athletics director Dave Hart and head football coach Butch Jones chat while waiting for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols softball team to return from the Womens College World Series, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. The Lady VOls fell to Oklahoma in the finals, ending their season 52-12. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Athletics director Dave Hart and head football coach Butch Jones chat while waiting for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols softball team to return from the Womens College World Series, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. The Lady VOls fell to Oklahoma in the finals, ending their season 52-12. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee’s football program is teetering on the brink of serious penalties after another sub-par round of academic numbers that was released on Tuesday.

Tennessee’s football team scored a 924 in the NCAA’s newest batch of academic progress rate (APR) data. The multi-year rates cover a four-year period from the 2008-2009 through 2011-2012 academic years.

The current NCAA threshold for participating in the postseason is 900. That standard will rise to 930 for 2014, potentially putting the Vols in peril but also allowing them time to catch up. UT officials expressed confidence that an improved academic focus would help boost UT’s score.

A national database of APR scores is available on the NCAA website here: http://web1.ncaa.org/maps/aprRelease.jsp

Football is UT’s only sport below the future standard of 930.

The NCAA describes the APR as a “ team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete, each term.” Essentially, teams gain points for retaining players and maintaining their academic eligibility. They lose points for players who struggle in the classroom or leave school in poor academic standing.

The APR program has been in effect for eight years, but the NCAA recently stiffened penalties, including an effective ban on postseason competition for programs that don’t make the standard. Most notably, Connecticut’s storied men’s basketball program was barred from postseason play in 2013.

The most recently released numbers reflect a four-year period before the hiring of new coach Butch Jones. Most of the time frame was also before athletic director Dave Hart started his tenure.

"While our current football APR score is well below our expectations, we believe that the team's academic performance during the 2012-13 school year and the improvements made in our structure over the last year have us strongly positioned for the future," Hart said in a release.

Jones was briefed on the bleak APR outlook before he was hired, so the numbers are unlikely to be a shock for him. UT officials can also point to improved academic performance in the football program, including a 2.8 team GPA in the most recent semester. The team also showed improvement in Derek Dooley’s final year at the helm after a dismal fall semester GPA of 2.08 in 2011.

"I believe that once we identified the APR issues with our football program, we have done everything necessary to address them," UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. "I am proud of the performance in the classroom by our student-athletes over the last two semesters, and I have great confidence that we have put past issues behind us and will only continue to improve."

Jones has inherited troubled academic situations in his last two stops. At Central Michigan, the APR grew from 920 in his first year to 945 in his final season. At Cincinnati, the football program improved from 907 to 957.

“Academics are at the forefront of the priorities within our football team, and we are excited with the results in the classroom from the spring semester,” Jones said in the release. “We are moving forward with a great plan and structure that alleviates past academic concerns, and we are confident of avoiding any APR issues. Everything is in place to provide the best possible environment for achieving academic success for our student-athletes as we continue to move forward.”

UT registered a program-high multi-year APR of 949 in the 2007-2008 academic year, but has slipped in each year since. Those scores are no longer included in the four-year rolling average, which likely contributed to this year’s low score.

If Tennessee fails to meet the 930 four-year average in order to qualify for participation in a 2014 bowl, the Vols could still earn their way if their two-year average is 940.

In addition to being barred from postseason play, teams who don’t meet the standard could face a loss of practice time from 20 to 16 hours per week, with the additional four hours being devoted to academics.

Tennessee, and other schools in its situation, could use several strategies to improve APR numbers, including earning points by convincing former players to return to school and graduate.

The NCAA also considers waivers and appeals for some of the toughest sanctions, although Connecticut’s attempt to elude the postseason ban was unsuccessful.

Tennessee has sought to revamp its academic support system under Hart. He recently hired Joe Scogin from Missouri to serve as senior associate AD and director of the Thornton Center, UT’s student-athlete academic center.

Tennessee athletic programs have faced minor penalties in the past. The baseball team’s scholarship allotment was reduced by 1.17 when multi-year rates were released after the 2006-2007 academic year. The men’s basketball team was docked one scholarship after the 2007-2008 season.

Tennessee APR rate by academic year

(First number is multi-year average, second number is one-year rate)

2004-2005: 926, not released

2005-2006: 938, not released

2006-2007: 948, not released

2007-2008: 949, not released

2008-2009: 944, 928

2009-2010: 937, 921

2010-2011: 931, 934

2011-2012: 924, 909

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him on Twitter.

Related Document

NCAA Division I 2011 - 2012 Academic Progress Rate Public Report for Tennessee

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Comments » 106

westknoxrepub writes:

Correct me if I'm wrong. . .but don't guys like Bray, Hunter, Rogers et al who left early but had a good academic standing count against the total score? If that's true, it seems to penalize teams who recruit well.

VFL_Troll_Patrol writes:

I can see the APR rate slowly dropping off from 2008-2012. Something is wrong with this picture and I hope they fix it and fix it SOON! I think some fans see college athletes as just players on the field and forget about the academics that are behind the scenes. Its easy to forget about it. Now that I have read this I now realize that academics comes first. It is a University after all haha and a DANG good one! GBO

*Im always watching*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxXyiF...

antonio14313 writes:

uh oh... (although, i think that this is something that is not current, like, grades from last year or the year before...)

t

VolYork45 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Correct me if I'm wrong. . .but don't guys like Bray, Hunter, Rogers et al who left early but had a good academic standing count against the total score? If that's true, it seems to penalize teams who recruit well.

As far as I know, that's true. Imagine the hurt the APR score of the LSU football team has taken. But Tennessee did finish this last semester with a 2.8 which will certainly help them get back above 930. I think this team will perform well academically as well as on the field. Looking back at CBJ's old teams, they have done well in class, and I look for that to continue. Being banned is an eerie possibility, but an unlikely one at that. Go Vols!

MetroplexMojo writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Correct me if I'm wrong. . .but don't guys like Bray, Hunter, Rogers et al who left early but had a good academic standing count against the total score? If that's true, it seems to penalize teams who recruit well.

From how I understand it....

The NCAA does make adjustments for players that leave early to go professional as long as the players are in good standing and did not receive aid for the semester (Spring 2013 in this case) in which they dropped out. Basketball schools get burned by this rule since draft eligible players will stop going to class after the season is over to prepare for the NBA draft. Syracuse got burned by this. One way schools like UK get around this is by front loading the one and dones classwork (more hours in the summer/fall and the the minimum number of hours needed to stay eligible comprised of short-term accelerated sessions in the spring)

CCLC writes:

Wait... what? Wasn't there a lot a back slappin' going on a couple of weeks ago per Vol academics?

Virgil writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

dragon18 writes:

in response to CCLC:

Wait... what? Wasn't there a lot a back slappin' going on a couple of weeks ago per Vol academics?

Yes, A team GPA of 2.8. Up from 2.08 the semester prior which was apparently better than the semester before. You should probably read the article before posting as the answer to your post is in there. Unless of course you just wanted to try and stir the pot a bit.

antonio14313 writes:

ohio state was ineligable for a bowl game in 2012. they went 12-0. if tennessee gets a ban, maybe it'll motivate them similarly. go vols!

t

dragon18 writes:

Actually I should follow my own advice. The 2.08 was a low point under Dooley in the fall of 2011 and has improved since. But 2.8 is a big improvement.

xanga writes:

Some users consider this comment inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

can't spell stupid without the T in tennessee

antonio14313 writes:

in response to Virgil:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

...that was like 4 years ago. ;) go vols.

t

StoneJackBaller writes:

Just like everything else in the world, it's George W. Bush's fault. Maybe we should start spying on our players to see if they're "really" studying.

SevenT writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LovinMyVols writes:

Is this further evidence of what we have been hearing about the academics at UT now being among the more difficult of the non-Vandy schools?

If so, the players should be thankful. There is no better opportunity than a quality education.

Student-Athletes: Go to class...study hard. You have an opportunity of a lifetime. Football can be over in one hit, but an education lasts a lifetime.

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to SevenT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

so says the KNS cubicle flunky

cobragolfer writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

MetroplexMojo writes:

This APR is caused by the attrition resulting from 3 coaches in 4 years. The team's APR is not directly correlated to the team's GPA. A student athlete that is barely in good academic standing counts as much in the APR calculation as a student athlete with a 4.0

In addition, this APR is caused by a coach (Dooley) that did not place the required emphasis on academics. I could go on a rant here but the Dooley tenure has been beaten to death ad nauseam.

Thankfully, the GPA did improve in the spring. Hopefully, the gains will continue and Coach Jones will be able to dig out of the academic and athletic mess left by his predecessor.

keepitreal4vols writes:

in response to xanga:

This comment may be inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

can't spell stupid without the T in tennessee

Enjoying your summer break? Log off now and let the adults talk.

WoodbineVOL writes:

Our football program in one word wesuck. Coach Jones will improve every aspect of the football program. There is little room to deteiorate any further. TKS again Mr Hamilton.

volnbig11land writes:

in response to SevenT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Are you a paid KNS troll or a jerk?

You constantly belittle the program, yet come back with "Tennessee is a football factory." Which is it?

If you really are a kintuckee fan, you are EXACTLY like the majority of the ones I have met.

Obnoxious and full of yourself. Yep, that's the kittie fans I've encountered both in K'ville and Horseville.

Now back under the bridge you go....

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to cobragolfer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

they should kick you off this site, clown

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to cobragolfer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your accusation against Coach Jones is slanderous and yes, I hit suggest removal.

wagee12 writes:

Thanks for another scintillating piece of work Woodpecker. What ever would we do without you digging around like a whittle ground hog for all this information. You have a well earned history of being a whittle bitty trouble maker. Go back to Gumpland.

FWBVol writes:

in response to SevenT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Kentucky is a basketball factory. The Wildcats recruit basketball players that they know will never be in school more than two years. The KY basketball players are not in school for an education, but to try and get a shot at the NBA.

JSmith525 writes:

SEC Schools: APR
Football Auburn University AL 2011 - 2012 950
Football Louisiana State University LA 2011 - 2012 944
Football Mississippi State University MS 2011 - 2012 967
Football University of Alabama AL 2011 - 2012 978
Football University of Arkansas, Fayetteville AR 2011 - 2012 938
Football University of Florida FL 2011 - 2012 968
Football University of Georgia GA 2011 - 2012 968
Football University of Kentucky KY 2011 - 2012 943
Football University of Mississippi MS 2011 - 2012 944
Football University of South Carolina, Columbia SC 2011 - 2012 966
Football University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN 2011 - 2012 924
Football Vanderbilt University TN 2011 - 2012 973

JSmith525 writes:

Basketball SEC: APR, Looks like LSU and Miss State are on thin ice here.

Men's Basketball Auburn University AL 2011 - 2012 940
Men's Basketball Louisiana State University LA 2011 - 2012 909
Men's Basketball Mississippi State University MS 2011 - 2012 935
Men's Basketball University of Alabama AL 2011 - 2012 995
Men's Basketball University of Arkansas, Fayetteville AR 2011 - 2012 951
Men's Basketball University of Florida FL 2011 - 2012 989
Men's Basketball University of Georgia GA 2011 - 2012 990
Men's Basketball University of Kentucky KY 2011 - 2012 963
Men's Basketball University of Mississippi MS 2011 - 2012 979
Men's Basketball University of South Carolina, Columbia SC 2011 - 2012 983
Men's Basketball University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN 2011 - 2012 973
Men's Basketball Vanderbilt University TN 2011 - 2012 980

markh writes:

Wait, wait. This tends to indicate that UT athletes in fact really ARE students then! To hear many rabid Vol fans tell it on these online KNS comment pages, one would have thought that the Vols were actually Tennessee's OTHER pro football team. Well good for the NCAA, and shape up (academically) boys; you're getting a college education paid for in full by using your God-given sports talents out on the field. That's something not to be treated lightly. Not too many students get the benefits that you have! (Also, I think/hope, that this new coach, since he seems to have a pulse above room temperature will look for excellence both on and off the field, so this problem should be easily solvable in my opinion.) Good luck guys, study hard, and play hard, and go Vols.

MetroplexMojo writes:

in response to JSmith525:

SEC Schools: APR
Football Auburn University AL 2011 - 2012 950
Football Louisiana State University LA 2011 - 2012 944
Football Mississippi State University MS 2011 - 2012 967
Football University of Alabama AL 2011 - 2012 978
Football University of Arkansas, Fayetteville AR 2011 - 2012 938
Football University of Florida FL 2011 - 2012 968
Football University of Georgia GA 2011 - 2012 968
Football University of Kentucky KY 2011 - 2012 943
Football University of Mississippi MS 2011 - 2012 944
Football University of South Carolina, Columbia SC 2011 - 2012 966
Football University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN 2011 - 2012 924
Football Vanderbilt University TN 2011 - 2012 973

To my point about player attrition due to coaching changes earlier...

6 schools have scores at 950 or lower. 5 of those 6 schools have replaced coaches within the last 2 years. LSU is the only sub 950 school that has not changed coaches in the last 3 years.

JSmith525 writes:

in response to SevenT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's awesome how that worked out for me! :) Instead of replying to a stupid post I hit that there "suggest removal" button. And presto your post was gone. Now I can reply without your ignorant post showing up in my reply. That worked out awesome. Thanks KNS!!!!!

JSmith525 writes:

in response to MetroplexMojo:

To my point about player attrition due to coaching changes earlier...

6 schools have scores at 950 or lower. 5 of those 6 schools have replaced coaches within the last 2 years. LSU is the only sub 950 school that has not changed coaches in the last 3 years.

I agree. Hopefully Coach Jones is the answer and will be here for a long time. We need this ship on a steady heading in order for the program to get back to it's "RIGHTFUL" place in the football world>

ReeseHallRelic writes:

in response to SevenT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just curious, KNS: This troll has had comments removed three days in a row. What will it take for you to ban him?

JSmith525 writes:

in response to ReeseHallRelic:

Just curious, KNS: This troll has had comments removed three days in a row. What will it take for you to ban him?

They don't really "ban" them. They just can the current user name. So the trolls always come back using their new name. No Matter "suggest removal" is a great tool. I do wish however that we could select not to view their comments. But "it is what it is"....

CarrieM writes:

in response to MetroplexMojo:

This APR is caused by the attrition resulting from 3 coaches in 4 years. The team's APR is not directly correlated to the team's GPA. A student athlete that is barely in good academic standing counts as much in the APR calculation as a student athlete with a 4.0

In addition, this APR is caused by a coach (Dooley) that did not place the required emphasis on academics. I could go on a rant here but the Dooley tenure has been beaten to death ad nauseam.

Thankfully, the GPA did improve in the spring. Hopefully, the gains will continue and Coach Jones will be able to dig out of the academic and athletic mess left by his predecessor.

Thanks for posting. That was also my understanding about the APR. Does it make sense to anyone that a strong academic performance does not really figure into the calculation? It seems that having a team average of 2.8 is no more beneficial than attaining the minimum average for eligibility (which I believe is a 2.0).

There obviously is a serious lack of common sense at NCAA Headquarters. (Ridiculous understatement, I know.)

Tru138 writes:

in response to volnbig11land:

Are you a paid KNS troll or a jerk?

You constantly belittle the program, yet come back with "Tennessee is a football factory." Which is it?

If you really are a kintuckee fan, you are EXACTLY like the majority of the ones I have met.

Obnoxious and full of yourself. Yep, that's the kittie fans I've encountered both in K'ville and Horseville.

Now back under the bridge you go....

7t is a moronic hypocrite. Complete idiot.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to xanga:

This comment may be inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

can't spell stupid without the T in tennessee

The really sad thing about you xanga is that you actually think you are funny or cleaver when you come on another team's newspaper's board and post your drival. It's time you put your keyboard down, get off your fat butt, get out of your grandmother's basement and get a life you pathetic loser!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to SevenT:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Funny how you never show up when your team loses. You are just another feable minded pathetic loser that needs to let go of your mommy's nipple and get a life.

MetroplexMojo writes:

in response to CarrieM:

Thanks for posting. That was also my understanding about the APR. Does it make sense to anyone that a strong academic performance does not really figure into the calculation? It seems that having a team average of 2.8 is no more beneficial than attaining the minimum average for eligibility (which I believe is a 2.0).

There obviously is a serious lack of common sense at NCAA Headquarters. (Ridiculous understatement, I know.)

I do understand the point of not factoring GPA into the APR. If you factored the GPA into the APR, the coaching staffs would try to push all the student athletes into the easy majors.

volprof80 writes:

I think the comment about a connection between coaching changes, attrition, and low GPA has merit. Typically, freshmen have lower GPA's than upperclassmen, so whenever a team has high numbers of freshmen, I can see how that might contribute to lowering the team GPA.

CarrieM writes:

in response to MetroplexMojo:

I do understand the point of not factoring GPA into the APR. If you factored the GPA into the APR, the coaching staffs would try to push all the student athletes into the easy majors.

And that doesn't happen with the majority of them anyway? This system just seems to reward mediocrity.

abnerPeabody writes:

What do you expect? When you recruit dumb players,you get dumb players. Not just a Tennessee problem. The whole sports scene is nothing but a joke.Drugs,wife,girlfriend beaters,roberies etc. That is what we get for the most part.Give scholarships
to those that want to be somebody and will work hard for that diploma and want to play 4 years for their chosen school.

Tru138 writes:

in response to xanga:

This comment may be inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

can't spell stupid without the T in tennessee

Weak.

rsummie#211799 writes:

I guess Dooley not only didn't care about winning but it looks like he didn't care if the players went to class either! We were just a big paycheck to him apparently!

jhncpps1 writes:

Here is how the APR is calculated.

Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by the points possible and then multiplied by one thousand to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate score. Example: A Division I Football Bowl Subdivision team awards the full complement of 85 grants-in-aid. If 80 student-athletes remain in school and academically eligible, three remain in school but are academically ineligible and two drop out academically ineligible, the team earns 163 of 170 possible points for that term. Divide 163 by 170 and multiply by 1,000 to determine that the team’s Academic Progress Rate for that term is 959.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to StoneJackBaller:

Just like everything else in the world, it's George W. Bush's fault. Maybe we should start spying on our players to see if they're "really" studying.

You were being a smart arss by saying what you did about spying. That is exactly what needs to be done.

LibertyVolance writes:

If it weren't for bad news, there'd be no news at all. Gloom, despair and misery on me. I need to start keeping my eyes closed tight all day long.

madrigal writes:

The difference between male and female student athletes is that a lot of the male athletes are just in college to get noticed by the pros (and when you come right down to it, the numbers are not necessarily in their favor!). Female athletes know that sports are a ticket to their education, and they buckle down and study while they're in school. I can remember seasons when at least half of the Lady Vol basketball team was on the Dean's List. And it's not just the basketball players, there are plenty of good student on the softball, tennis, golf, swimming, cross country and track teams. It's the guys who think school just isn't that important, and then you wonder why so many of them flounder around in the world after they leave UT.

oldster writes:

in response to xanga:

This comment may be inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

can't spell stupid without the T in tennessee

So, you cannot spell Obama without bama, either. What does that prove?

oldster writes:

Is it a coincidence that the grades got lower during the time that the team's performance on the field worsened, too? Could there be a connection via emotions, self-esteem, etc?

Rookie2 writes:

"The sky is falling" called and wants it's over-reaction back.

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