For the sixth straight year, all 17 of Northern Illinois University’s intercollegiate athletic teams have “made the grade” by surpassing the academic standards measured by the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Academic Progress Rate (APR).
The NCAA released its complete 2009-10 Division I APR report Tuesday, one week after the Huskie football team received an NCAA Public Recognition Award as one of the nation’s top football APR teams with a four-year rate of 987.
With the release of each NCAA team’s numeric APR, the Northern Illinois football team ranks third in the country in APR among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools, behind only Northwestern (993) and Rutgers (988), and ahead of the football teams from other publicly recognized teams such as Duke (986), Stanford (977) and Vanderbilt (977), among many, many others.
The Huskies’ 987 APR is 41 points above the national average of 946.
“For our football team to be at that level, especially given the company we are keeping on the Public Recognition list, shows how hard our student-athletes have worked and shows the emphasis that we have placed, as a university and as an athletic department, on the academic success of our student-athletes,” said Jeff Compher, NIU associate vice president and director of Athletics.
“I am very pleased that all of our programs, for the sixth straight year, have surpassed the NCAA standards, but we realize that this is an ongoing process and will continue to work toward continued academic success for all of our programs and student-athletes.”
Every Division I sports team calculates its APR each academic year, based on the eligibility and retention of each scholarship student-athlete. Teams scoring below certain thresholds can face penalties, such as scholarship losses and restrictions on practice and competition.
Rates are based on the past four years’ performance with the 2011 report released Tuesday based on data from 2006-07 through 2009-10. The APR has become the primary tool used by the NCAA to judge a team’s academic progress and serves as a predictor of graduation success.
In addition to surpassing the 925 (out of 1,000) score necessary to avoid sanctions, 14 of the Huskies’ 17 programs improved or equaled their APR from 2010 to 2011 after 13 teams saw their APR rise from 2009 to 2010. The football team’s APR improved by 12 points to pace all NIU teams, while softball saw its Academic Progress rate go up 11 points. Men’s soccer and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field were up nine points each.
Women’s gymnastics led all Northern Illinois teams with a four-year APR of 995, while women’s golf (994), women’s soccer (994) and volleyball (991) also achieved rates of 990 or higher. Women’s soccer’s mark of 994 led all Mid-American Conference women’s soccer teams.
Four NIU teams – men’s basketball, men’s golf, gymnastics and softball – recorded perfect APR scores of 1,000 for 2009-10, the latest year included in this year’s report. Those rates will be included in the multi-year APR totals for the next three years.
“The APR is an important benchmark and provides a method for us to continually assess how our teams are doing in terms of retention and eligibility/graduation,” Compher said. “In addition to demonstrating the accomplishments of our students in the classroom, these APR numbers are a credit to the staff of our Student-Athlete Academic Support Services unit, and show the commitment our coaches have to the academic success of Huskie student-athletes.”
The NCAA also released Tuesday the list of teams subject to penalties.
by Donna Turner