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Razorbacks continue to exceed benchmark

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Razorbacks continue to exceed benchmark

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas exceeds the benchmark Academic Progress Rate (APR) multi-year rate of 925 in 18 of its 19 intercollegiate sport programs for the third-consecutive year. The 18 sport programs each exceeded the benchmark by more than 10 points including a perfect 1,000 by gymnastics.

Twelve teams improved or maintained their APR since the previous report in 2010 including 11 sports that increased their multi-year APR rate by four points or more. The average multi-year rate for Arkansas’ 19 sports is 964.8.

In addition, 16 of 19 Razorback sport programs recorded a single-year rate exceeding the benchmark for the 2009-10 reporting period. Seven programs recorded a perfect single-year rate of 1,000 including men’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s golf, gymnastics, soccer and women’s tennis. The program’s average APR rate for 2009-10 was 969.6.

The APR is based on academic eligibility and retention of student-athletes in each athletic program. This report’s multi-year scores are based on the 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

"As an overall program, we are continuing to make consistent progress in meeting and exceeding APR benchmarks in nearly every sport," Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. "Eighteen of our 19 sports have multi-year rates 12 or more points over the benchmark. Our more than 460 student-athletes are achieving academically while competing and succeeding athletically in the Southeastern Conference and nationally. I am proud of the efforts of our student-athletes, coaches and staff as we remain focused on our primary mission of advancing Razorback student-athletes to graduation."

The Razorbacks have 15 programs with a multi-year rate of 950 or above including gymnastics that scored a perfect 1,000 becoming the first gymnastics program in the Southeastern Conference to earn a public recognition award. Other top scoring programs included women’s golf at 993, women’s swimming and diving at 988, women’s cross country at 986 and men’s tennis at 984.

Men’s tennis made the largest multi-year improvement moving up 17 points in the latest report. Three teams made 14 point improvements including men’s golf (968), men’s cross country (964) and women’s swimming and diving 988. Other teams that improved their multi-year rate include baseball, men’s basketball, football, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, gymnastics, women’s tennis and women’s indoor track and field.

Men’s basketball multi-year rate of 892 was below the 925 benchmark. Programs with multi-year rates below the benchmark are subject to both contemporaneous and historical penalties. The University of Arkansas was not assigned contemporaneous penalties by the NCAA.

In the historical penalty process, the men’s basketball program was assessed a loss of one scholarship based on its multi-year rate. The NCAA calls for the scholarship reduction to be applied at the earliest opportunity, but does not mandate that the program remove a current student-athlete from scholarship or require the program to rescind a scholarship from student-athletes who have already signed a letter of intent. If a scholarship is not available in the 2011-12 school year, the institution may apply the reduction in 2012-13. The scholarship reduction is the first penalty assessed against the University of Arkansas since the APR program was established.

Arkansas was also subject to loss of practice time, but the NCAA waived that penalty based on the program’s noted improvement in eligibility and advancement toward graduation. Earlier this month four men’s basketball student-athletes earned their diploma marking the most men’s basketball graduates in one year since 2000.

Although the men’s basketball multi-year rate did improve this year after back-to-back single year rates of 933 and 918, the program is still recovering from a debilitating single year rate of 755 in 2007-08. The 2007-08 rate will also be included in next year’s calculations before cycling off the multi-year rate in 2012.

"While we are disappointed that we have been assigned a historical penalty in our men’s basketball program, I am pleased with the direction we are moving in correcting APR issues of the past," Long said. "The seeds of this penalty were sewn three years ago and while some progress was made, we still fell short of our goal of remaining free of APR penalties.I want to thank Jon Fagg and Melissa Harwood-Rom and our academic staff for addressing eligibility and aiding in advancing our student-athletes to their college degrees. We will continue to work with our coaching staff on fortifying our retention efforts. I am confident that our student-athlete centered approach to academic and student life skills development will foster continued progress under the leadership of Coach Mike Anderson and his staff."

"While it is unfortunate that we are receiving an historic APR penalty, I was aware that our men’s basketball team had APR issues when I accepted this position," men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson said. "My staff and I are committed to working very hard to make sure our players are doing the right things both on and off the court in an effort to insure that APR penalties do not occur in the future. Student-Athletes earning college degrees should be expected and I commend the four players from this year’s team who attained that goal and participated in graduation ceremonies."



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