Feb. 28, 2005
The University of Tennessee's first academic report card from the NCAA rates the Vols above their peers both in Division I-A and among public institutions, despite the fact that a few Big Orange teams fell below the academic progress report minimum score for avoiding future penalties.
UT scored an institution athletics rate of 945 on the new APR chart to rank slightly better than the Division I-A average of 944 and the public schools' rate of 938. All 326 Division I schools averaged a score of 948 for the 2003-04 academic year.
"This is the plan, this is what we're operating under," Athletics Director Mike Hamilton said. "There may be some things that are tweaked by the NCAA but we're operating from a staff and Thornton Center standpoint that this is the plan.
"We have to rise to the occasion and be prepared for these numbers and this method of measurement."
According to NCAA figures, football, baseball and men's basketball were the only sports whose Division I average APR fell below 925. Those three sports, along with men's tennis, averaged below the 925 mark at Tennessee.
But factoring in a confidence boundary in effect for the early years of this APR, football and men's tennis would not have been subject to contemporaneous financial aid penalties such as loss of scholarships had the system been in place this year.
"One thing to note is that we're being measured now on data that was collected when these rules were not in place," said Dr. Ruth Darling, Associate Provost and Director of the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center. "Our students are competitive and if they know what the standard is, they are going to work to achieve it.
"I think it's something where now that we know what the measurements are, we're going to make progress."
The NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance and the Board of Directors, primary drivers of the latest academic-reform initiative, believe this report puts institutions "on notice" as to the kinds of academic outcomes that will subject teams to penalty in subsequent years.
Contemporaneous penalties will be assessed based on a two-year APR score (2003-04 and 2004-05 combined) and on student-athlete eligibility and retention status in 2004-05 (that is, a student-athlete who is neither eligible nor retained may subject a team to penalty). Institutions will be notified officially in December 2005 if any of their teams are subject to penalty.