For the seventh consecutive year, all 17 of Northern Illinois University’s sports programs have exceeded the academic standards measured by the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) according to the 2012 APR report released today by the organization.
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.
“We have made academic success and earning a degree a top priority as a university and an athletic department. It is very satisfying to see our student-athletes not only meet, but in many cases, exceed, the NCAA’s standards,” said Jeff Compher, NIU associate vice president and director of Athletics.
“For our football team to be among the nation’s elite for the second straight year is very impressive and for our women’s outdoor track program to be recognized for the first time is truly significant.”
Wednesday’s release of the complete 2010-11 Division I APR report comes a week after the NIU football and women’s outdoor track and field teams earned a Public Recognition Award as one of the top APR squads in their respective sports.
The Huskie football team, which scored a four-year rate of 987, ranks fifth in the nation in APR among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools, behind Northwestern (993), Boise State (989), Duke (989), Ohio State (988) and ahead of other publicly recognized programs such as Rice (986), Clemson (983), Miami (Fla.) (980) and Rutgers (982).
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 2012 report released Wednesday based on data from 2007-08 through 2010-11.
NIU’s women’s outdoor track and field team, which earned its first Public Recognition Award, placed in the Top 25 in the nation. The only Division I school from the state of Illinois to earn the award, the Huskie women’s outdoor track and field squad, tied with Texas and Notre Dame with a four-year APR score of 997.
Not only did all of NIU’s programs surpass the 925 (out of 1,000) mark to avoid sanctions, 12 of the Huskies’ 17 programs improved or equaled their APR score from 2011 to 2012, posting scores at or above 975.
The women’s outdoor track and field team showed the biggest improvement of NIU’s 17 programs with a 20-point jump, followed by the indoor track and field team (+17) and men’s basketball with a 15-point improvement from 2010-11.
Six NIU teams – men’s golf, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s golf and women’s gymnastics – recorded perfect APR scores of 1,000 for 2010-11, the latest year included in this year’s report. Those scores will be included in the multi-year APR totals for the next three years.
“These APR numbers reflect the hard work turned in by our student-athletes, and the dedication of our Student-Athlete Academic Support Services (SAASS) unit led by (Assistant Athletics Director) Liz Tovar,” Compher said. “While we are pleased with this year’s report, we cannot rest on our success and we will continue to strive to work toward the academic success of every Northern Illinois student-athlete.”
Women’s outdoor track and field led all NIU teams with a four-year APR of 997 and was one of 14 teams to score higher than 950. Northern Illinois boasts six teams that ranked first in the Mid-American Conference in APR, eight ranked first or second and 10 teams ranked in the top four in the league.
The NCAA released the complete APR reports for each school Wednesday, as well as the list of teams subject to penalties.
For more information on Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.