What UConn's APR Score Actually Measures

NEW ORLEANS, LA--NCAA president Mark Emmert starts a slow clap for himself. Credit: Tyler Kaufman-US PRESSWIRE

Note: This was co-written with Derbyguy, who did most of the work.

We’ve heard a lot over the past year regarding UConn’s (most likely) ban from the 2013 postseason as a result of poor academic performance. There has been a lot of chatter throughout the media and on message boards regarding this topic, however, we haven't had a comprehensive breakdown of the past few years of UConn’s APR score. That's what this post is intended to do.

Now is a good time to emphasize that the goal of this post is NOT to find a scapegoat for why UConn had such poor academic scores. The intention is to (hopefully) provide some clarity on what the APR measures, a timeline of events, and an aggregate of what has been reported. Our goal isn't to speculate on individual players academic records but to understand the types of actions that have led to APR deductions for UConn. All references to the status of specific players are cited to sources online. There’s also a table of Louisiana-Monroe’s APR performance over the years. If you remember, they received a ban for the 2013 tournament as well, but their appeal resulted in their ban being waived.


For the tl;dr crowd, a few comments and tables summarizing the key points:

  • Athletes can earn up to 2 points each semester that are used to calculate the APR.
  • Max number of points per season is 52, 2 for each semester times a max of 13 scholarship athletes.
  • One point is for staying in good academic standing, the other is a retention point.
  • The retention point is earned if the athlete returns for the next semester or graduates.
  • Retention point can be waived for athletes who sign a pro contract or transfer to a four-year institution with at least a 2.6 GPA at UConn. There are other scenarios where the point could be waived, but those haven’t applied to UConn.
  • A "waived" point means it is removed from both the numerator and denominator when calculating the score.
  • The APR score is calculated by dividing the number of points earned by the number of total possible points and multiplying by 1000. The 4-year and 2-year rolling averages are calculated by adding up the number of points earned over a 4-year or 2-year period and dividing by the total possible points. (They are not simply an average of the scores from each of the years).

First up are UConn’s APR scores since the measurement’s inception:

Year

Season APR

Missed Points

Possible Points

03-04

941

3

51

04-05

889

5

45

05-06

978

1

46

06-07

981

1

52

07-08

909

4

44

08-09

844

7

45

09-10

826

8

46

10-11

978

1

45

That three year stretch starting with the ‘07-’08 season is the reason for UConn’s issues.

Next up is a breakdown of the missed points between the ‘07-’08 and ‘09-’10 seasons:

Apr_pt_breakdown_medium

After the jump is a year-by-year summary of everything we could find about the APR and UConn, plus a timeline of changes in the APR and key dates for UConn leading up to their ban.

2007-2008

After posting back-to-back years of strong APR scores (978 and 981), UConn dropped fairly significantly down to a score of 909. This began the three year period of poor performance that led to the loss of two scholarships and a likely ban from postseason play. For this season, UConn only had 11 scholarship players and none received any special waiver, so the total possible points to be earned were 44. UConn fell 4 shy.

At least one of the points were the result of Stanley Robinson’s struggles with class at the end of the year.It seems that he did not earn the academic point for the spring semester. He returned for the next season, but was a walk-on. It is unclear if he would earn the retention point for the spring semester.

Both Curtis Kelly and Doug Wiggins transferred at the end of the year to four-year schools. There are no reports or indications that Kelly had any academic issues. However, it appears that Wiggins may have struggled with academics.

There were no reports that any other players had academic issues, so it is possible that both Doug and Stanley were 2/4 for the season.

2008-2009

In 2008-2009 UConn began the season with 13 scholarships. One was earmarked for Ater Majok, but the NCAA did not rule on his eligibility until mid-season at which point they ruled him eligible for December of the next year. Another scholarship was given to Nate Miles who was promptly expelled from school in October for violating a restraining order. With Majok’s 4 possible full-year points removed from UConn’s possible APR points, and Miles’ 2 possible second semester points removed, UConn’s total possible APR points were down to 46. Hasheem Thabeet was drafted with the second overall pick which gave him a guaranteed NBA contract and a waiver for his retention point. This meant UConn could have earned a total of 45 points. They fell 7 shy, earning 38. (38/45=.844)

We can feel pretty confident of where 4 of the 7 deducted points came from. The first two points docked were due to Miles expulsion, which rendered him unable to achieve either the academic or retention point. Charles Okwandu was declared academically ineligible for the 2nd semester. He lost an academic point, but remained with the team earning his retention point. Okawandu regained his eligibility the following season so we can assume he was a 2/2 during the second semester. Jonathan Mandeldove was declared academically ineligible to begin the next season, so we can assume that one of UConn’s missing points was his academic point for the second semester.

The other three points come from some combination of players who left the team. Earlier this year Kevin Duffy wrote a story in the Connecticut Post which mentioned that Craig Austrie has a degree from UConn, so he was most likely a 4-4. Jeff Adrien is listed as having "graduated" by Duffy in the Danbury News-Times, but in an interview with a Brookline (MA) paper in April of 2009 he mentioned needing to come back to finish his degree over the summer. AJ Price was drafted by the Indiana Pacers, but was a 2nd round pick so he did not receive a guaranteed contract. If Price or Adrien left in good academic standing but without graduating they would have each been docked a retention point, but not an academic point. It’s also possible Thabeet was an 0/1 during his second semester if his academics slipped while preparing for the NBA draft. There is some indication in UConn’s appeal to the NCAA that this may have happened for Thabeet. It is important to note that USA Today is not necessarily correct in its assumptions that Thabeet, Majok, and Walker were the three players "who departed the University to pursue professional opportunities." This statement can cover both players who left with eligibility and those that went on to the professional league having exhausted eligibility and not graduated. Additionally, Scottie Harralson transferred to Tulsa which could have cost the team a retention point. As of 2008 (the year before Harralson transferred) transfers were able to waive their retention point provided they transfer to a four-year institution with a GPA of 2.6 or higher.

As noted earlier Stanley Robinson served a suspension meted out by Jim Calhoun during the first semester of 2008-2009 (he worked at a sheet metal company in Willimantic), prior to paying his own way during the second semester. Because he was a walk-on he does not count toward UConn’s 2008-09 APR.

2009-2010

The 826 APR score from the 2009-2010 season has done the most damage. It brought UConn’s 4-year rolling average down below 900, it kills UConn’s 2-year rolling average for 2013 tournament eligibility, and because the class contained two players who went 0-for-2 (failing to achieve either an academic or retention point in a semester) UConn was docked 2 scholarships for the 2011-2012 season. The 0-for-2’s have been widely reported to be Jonathan Mandeldove and Darius Smith. Smith transferred after the season to the College of Southern Idaho (a JUCO) so his retention point was unquestionably gone. Smith has since transferred from CSI to Eastern Illinois University.

With 12 players on scholarship, and Ater Majok not joining the team until 2nd semester, UConn could have earned a total of 46 APR points. They fell 8 points shy, totaling 38. (38/46=.826)

If we assume Smith and Mandeldove were 0-for-2's as reported, that means UConn lost 4 additional points. One of them was definitely a retention point for Jamaal Trice who transferred to JUCO Midland College (he’s since transferred to Appalachian State). The other 3 were most likely retention point deductions from either Gavin Edwards, Stanley Robinson, Ater Majok or Jerome Dyson.

Players who have exhausted their eligibility can earn their retention point by graduation or returning to finish a degree, or have the point waived by signing a pro contract. Mike Anthony mentioned that Dyson walked at graduation but was a few credits shy of graduating. Dyson, Robinson and Edwards all played in the NBA summer league immediately following their senior seasons which would have prevented them from signing a pro contract. Robinson was the only one of the three to be drafted, but was not guaranteed a contract due to his 2nd round selection. Robinson and Dyson started the next season in the NBADL, while Edwards played professionally in Korea and the Ukraine before landing in the NBADL.

If either Dyson, Robinson or Edwards earned their retention point by graduating then the last lost point must have come from an academic deduction to Majok or Trice. Majok was set to return for the 2010-11 season, but withdrew from school and the team in September (though there was nothing to indicate he was not academically eligible at the time). If Trice lost an additional academic point it would have made him a third 0-for-2. This would not have affected UConn's scholarship reduction because the maximum amount of scholarships they could have lost was two, but all published reports indicate only two 0-for-2's with no mention of a third.

2010-2011

The 2010-2011 Huskies forfeited one scholarship and 4 possible APR points due to sanctions stemming from Nate Miles recruitment. The team’s 12th scholarship went to Enosch Wolf who did not join the team until midseason, knocking another 2 possible APR points of UConn’s possible total. Kemba Walker left school as a junior and was an NBA lottery pick. Although he was close enough to graduating in three years to be allowed to walk at graduation ceremonies his degree was not completed prior to APR data collection. He left the program in good academic standing earning an academic APR point, and his retention point was waived because his draft slot guaranteed him an NBA contract. With those 7 points taken off a possible 52 points total, UConn could have earned a total of 45 points. Although the score has not been officially release, all accounts put it "around 975", and all signs point to UConn having earned 44 of a possible 45 points for an APR of 978. (44/45=.978)

With the new academic support plan in place UConn enjoyed its most successful season by academic progress rate in half a decade. In addition to Walker’s academic accomplishments both seniors Donnell Beverly and Charles Okwandu graduated. UConn’s only blemish came from transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel who reportedly did not maintain a GPA over 2.6 and therefore was unable to waive his retention point when transferring to Hofstra. Coombs-McDaniel was widely reported to have transferred in good academic standing however. All other underclassman on scholarship returned in good academic standing.

UConn and NCAA APR Timeline

  • April 2004 - The Committee on Academic Performance (CAP) creates the APR for Division 1 athletics. Decision is made that the NCAA will not penalize or reward institutions until a four-year average is available. As a result, the first average to count would be through the ‘06-’07 season. However, since there is a large amount of lag time between the end of the academic year and the reporting of the average (the ‘06-’07 results were reported in May of 2008) the punishments would not go into effect until the ‘08-’09 season.
  • July 2005 - The CAP votes to allow student-athletes who depart early for professional opportunities to waive their retention point, counting as a 1-1 (with an earned academic point) instead of a 1-2.
  • August 2006 - "Division 1 adopts the ‘improvement-plus’ model that allows teams below a 900 APR to gain relief from the initial phase of the historically based penalties by first demonstrating consistent and significant APR improvement, then meeting at least one institutional-characteristic component (including a comparison between the team and the general student body graduation rates and a resource component)." [NOTE: The "resource component" and comparison to general student body rates are undoubtedly what will be cited for the difference in the handling of UConn and Louisiana-Monroe, though UConn should have a decent argument based on the "relief from the initial phase...by demonstrating consistent and significant APR improvement.]
  • January 2008 - A new CAP policy allows the waiver of retention points for student-athletes transferring immediately to another 4-year institution, in good academic standing, with at least a 2.6 grade point average to waive the retention point and be counted as a 1-1 (rather than a 1-2 as previously counted).
  • May 2011 - UConn loses two scholarships for the 2011-2012 season as a result of a poor APR. The school’s four year score dropped to 893 as a result of 2009-2010 score of 826.
  • June 2011 - President Herbst responds to the team’s flagging academics and implements an academic improvement plan for the men’s basketball program.
  • August 2011 - NCAA Board of Directors votes to ban Division I teams from post-season play if they have a four-year average below 930. At the time Dr. Walt Harrison, chair of the Division I committee on academic performance, "said there will likely be a three- to five-year phase-in period, allowing schools to ‘ratchet up’ their academics."
  • October 2011 - Board of Directors finalize the new APR rules to require a two-year average of 930 or a four year average of 900. However, they decide to implement the new rules immediately, so as Dr. Harrison said "they are going to have to get on the stick." In truth, they already needed to be on the stick because despite the fact that the rule was agreed upon during the 2011-2012 academic year, it would use data from the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years. In essence a school’s fate for the 2012-2013 tournament was sealed as soon as the rule was passed since it relied on academic data from the two previous school years. As a result of these new rules, the best UConn can achieve for the two-year average covering the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 season is 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5.


Louisiane-Monroe

Sport School State Academic Year Multi-Year Rate Penalties
Men's Basketball University of Louisiana at Monroe LA 2004 - 2005 802 Immediate Penalty - Scholarship Reduction = 1
Men's Basketball University of Louisiana at Monroe LA 2005 - 2006 803 Historical Penalty - Public Notice = Yes
Men's Basketball University of Louisiana at Monroe LA 2006 - 2007 837
Men's Basketball University of Louisiana at Monroe LA 2007 - 2008 848
Men's Basketball University of Louisiana at Monroe LA 2008 - 2009 874 Historical Penalty - Public Notice = Yes





Historical Penalty - Scholarship Reduction = 2





Historical Penalty - Practice Reduction = Yes
Men's Basketball University of Louisiana at Monroe LA 2009 - 2010 852 Historical Penalty - Public Notice = Yes





Historical Penalty - Scholarship Reduction = 3





Historical Penalty - Practice Reduction = Yes





Historical Penalty - Championship Ban = Yes



Conclusions

  • The way the APR is designed, almost all damage to an APR score comes via players who are departing the program. Players already must maintain their academic eligibility in order to play, so APR deductions are going to come almost exlusively from players who are transferring or leaving after having exhausted their eligibility. Of the 20 possible APR points UConn failed to earn over the three year stretch from 2007-08 to 2010-11, 17 (85%) were lost via players that were leaving the team. While transfers have the opportunity to waive their point deduction with good grades, there is no difference in the deduction amount between a player who transfers with a sub-2.6 GPA (or to a junior college) and a player who leaves school without graduating.
  • As Kevin Duffy noted in November, the NCAA loves touting the number of student athletes who "go pro in something other than sports," but the APR does a pretty poor job of accounting for those who do go pro in sports. When the APR was founded even NBA lottery picks who left early received point deductions. The league has since bowed to pressure and now can say that lose leaving early for a pro contract earn a waiver point. In practice for basketball players this refers almost exclusively to an NBA contract guaranteed by a lottery pick. Players who have to play themselves into the Association via summer league or the NBADL do not get to waive the point. Nor do players who wind up making 6 figures playing overseas. A player finishing a 4-year career at a school like UConn (in prime physical shape and coming off the exposure of nationally televised games) will never be in a better position to land a job playing pro ball--even if it’s not in the NBA. Would you advise your son to pass up an opportunity like that? It’s not like the college credits they’ve already earned are going to vaporize. The CAP has already acknowledged that playing basketball professionally is an opportunity worth postponing college graduation for in certain circumstances, but it’s frustrating they don’t extend it to all circumstances. When Porter wrote last year that UConn’s APR was more about bad basketball than bad academics he was doubly correct. The problem wasn’t just rotational players who couldn’t earn minutes transferring to lower-tier schools, it was also players leaving the program prior to graduation to pursue professional opportunities other than on an NBA roster.
  • One article noted that UConn student athletes had 5 years to earn their degree, which seems sensible considering how many hours they devote to athletics. The APR effectively renders this model obsolete. If you recruit players with an opportunity to play professionally overseas there is almost no incentive for them to stay an extra year to graduate. Instead schools are forced to shoehorn basketball players into 4-year degree tracts and major clusters which isn’t in the best interests of the students’ educations, but it bumps up the graduation rate which is exactly what the NCAA is hoping for. The value of the education means much less to the APR than the value of the statistic. As Bill Rawls once said, "he who owes his good fortune to the numbers, abides in them."
  • Two things UConn could have done to prevent this situation: made a concerted effort as an athletic department to shoehorn basketball players into 4-year programs that offered summer classes and the opportunity to gain credit through intercession work (essentially, implement their APR plan earlier), and take in more transfers. Freshman who don’t earn playing time can and will transfer to find more minutes, but juniors and seniors who’ve already had to sit out a year cannot. Moreover, having more players leaving the program gives underclassman further incentive to stay.
  • As a UConn fan it's tempting to try to lay the blame on one facet of the system (ie transfers, players who graduate a mere 2 credits short, guys who leave to play ball overseas), but this wasn't about a failure in any one area. The APR is poorly calculated and doesn't necessarily measure what it is supposed to, but this was an across the board failing by UConn with regards to academic compliance. The Huskies could have withstood the transfers, or the seniors of 2010 not making the NBA, or Nate Miles--but they couldn't withstand them all.

In This Article

Topics
Teams
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The UConn Blog

You must be a member of The UConn Blog to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The UConn Blog. You should read them.

Join The UConn Blog

You must be a member of The UConn Blog to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The UConn Blog. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker