The NCAA released the Academic Progress Rate scores for 2011-12 on Tuesday, and though Cal has shown some improvement, there is still more work to be done.
Many of Cal’s sports excelled. The men’s tennis, women’s tennis and women’s gymnastics teams earned perfect multiyear APR scores of 1,000. Those multiyear scores show sustained academic excellence by reflecting performance over the last four years — from 2008 through August 2012.
Meanwhile the men’s golf, baseball and women’s soccer teams were also able to post perfect scores for the year — although their multiyear scores are lower.
But other sports have struggled.
Most notable is football — which, with a 935 multiyear score, ranks dead last in the Pac-12. The Bears are two points below Arizona State, while Stanford leads the Pac-12 with a score of 978.
However, these statistics reflect data that were gathered before the hiring of Sonny Dykes, and the athletic department has confidence that steps are being taken to improve football’s academic performance.
“From the beginning, (Dykes) has instituted standards for accountability and expectations for the entire team as it relates to academics,” said athletic director Sandy Barbour in a statement to Cal Athletics. “It may take some time for the scores to reflect the progress we are making, but it is clear that we are moving in the right direction.”
The statement from Cal Athletics lists a number of ways that the football team, under the new leadership of Dykes, is working to improve APR scores. Those methods include increasing the number of academic staff members that work with the football program, recruiting athletes that are more prepared for the academic rigours at Cal, encouraging former players to return to Cal to complete their degree work and more.
Cal Athletics also revealed that more recent data — not reflected in the APR scores — have shown improvement for the team. The football team’s spring GPA was the highest in five years, and 21 football players graduated at the end of the fall and spring semesters of last year.
NCAA sanctions, which can include scholarship reductions, do not go into effect until a team drops below an APR score of 925. However, recent reforms will require teams to have a 930 average by the 2015-16 season to be postseason eligible.
Because Cal football scored a 963 in the 2008-09 year, it will need a score of at least 943 next year to maintain a multiyear average higher than 930. The program will need at least a 923, the same score it posted this year, to keep its average above the 925 score that currently brings sanctions.
Meanwhile, many of Cal’s other sports showed improvement. Both men’s and women’s basketball posted scores above their multiyear averages. However, both of those teams ranked 10th in the Pac-12.
Cal posted a combined average of 975, and the general trend among most teams seems to be one of improvement. But the recent scores confirm that for many programs, the long road to academic excellence is still a few years away.
Read the full statement from Cal Athletics here.
Read the 2011-12 APR report for UC Berkeley from the NCAA here.