Cal athletic teams show ambiguous academic progress

Sean Goebel/File
The Cal football team posted the second worst APR score in the Pac-12 conference, coming in only ahead of Washington State.

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The Cal football team ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in the NCAA’s most recent Academic Progress Report (APR), released Wednesday for a four-year period ending with the 2010-11 academic year.

With a score of 936, the Cal football team’s APR score falls beneath the Division I football average of 948. This marks the third consecutive year in which the team’s figures have dropped, after a high of 970 in 2007-08.

The Stanford football team posted the highest score in the Pac-12. Only Washington State posted an APR score lower than Cal’s.

APR data has been collected by the NCAA since the 2004-05 season.

According to figures from the NCAA’s 2011 Graduation Success Rate Report, the graduation rate of Cal players over a four-year period was 54 percent, down from 65 percent the previous year. The rate was brought down by the team’s most recent class, which graduated at a 31 percent clip.

All Division I sports teams calculate their APR scores each year “based on the eligibility and retention of each scholarship student-athlete,” according to the NCAA. The figure is calculated based on the past four years’ performance.

The average unweighted score for all Cal teams is 978. The overall Division I APR score for all sports was 973.

Though Cal men’s basketball posted its second-highest rate in the last seven years with a score of 950, its score ranked fourth-lowest in the Pac-12, and its graduation success rate of 33 percent was sixth-lowest among major college basketball programs.

Besides football and men’s basketball, women’s track and field (948), softball (952) and women’s basketball (956) turned in the lowest APR scores among Cal varsity sports.

The figures were released as a host of Cal athletes earned Academic All-American honors in recent weeks. The Cal men’s and women’s tennis teams earned perfect APR scores of 1000, testament to the fact Cal can cultivate teams that succeed both academically and athletically.

The men’s tennis team, which improved its APR score each year from 2005-06 to 2009-10, left no room for improvement this year, as it finished with a perfect score of 1000 for the second consecutive year. Of Division I teams with scores in the top decile, only the Ohio State and Stanford teams finished the season with higher rankings.

Each tennis team finished in the top-15 in the year-end ITA rankings, with the women’s team finishing seventh overall this year after advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals. The

Cal women have improved their APR scores for five years running and had the highest finish of teams with scores in the top decile nationally.

Jana Juricova, a women’s tennis player who has earned All-Academic honors three times, was one of ten Pac-12 athletes named Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Juricova, a senior, won the 2011 NCAA singles championship and was named ITA National Senior Player of the Year in May.

But while most Cal teams are in safe water now, the threat of losing postseason eligibility looms.

Teams with scores below a certain threshold can face sanctions from the NCAA, including scholarship losses and restrictions from practice. This year, only teams with scores below 900 can lose access to the postseason, but the requiem rate for postseason entrance will rise to 930 in the next few years, equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate, according to the NCAA.

The NCAA has already stripped 15 teams of their postseason eligibility because of their low scores. Ten of those were men’s basketball teams, more than any other NCAA sport.

Five other teams will face NCAA sanctions, including three football programs. No Pac-12 teams will face sanctions.