The University of Connecticut’s football and men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams are among many teams at the university that have performed above the required NCAA Academic Progress Rate.
The football and men’s basketball teams both have improved their APR scores in recent years. The women’s team has repeatedly scored well off the court while also winning national championships.
The men’s basketball team earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award for posting a perfect 1000 single year APR score in the 2017-2018 year, UConn Today reported. The football team has had a steady improvement in the last five years in its multi-year APR score, with it starting at 960 in 2013-2014 and increasing to 981 for 2017-2018, according to The New Haven Register.
Women’s basketball has been scoring between 982 and 990 constantly for the past five years.
Dom Amore, who covers the men’s basketball team for the Hartford Courant, has seen changes at UConn since the team was sanctioned in 2013 for low scores.
“They really took time to understand the APR score and how it is calculated, which they weren’t doing before,” he said. “They took advantage of the support and getting the bonus points to boost their APR.”
Amore said UConn’s athletic department has placed a higher emphasis on academics in recent years.
“We’ve seen progress, and we’ve seen improvement in academics so much that slowly, that negative image of these programs are changing,” he said.
Ellen Tripp, who is a director of the Student-Athlete Success Program at UConn, said everyone is responsible for the APR score, including students, staff members and coaches.
“We have a holistic view and philosophy with our students so we are not just looking at them as a one-dimension student,” Tripp said.
It has become necessary to keep student-athletes on task, and counselors understand the support every athlete needs, Tripp said.
She said a system is in place at UConnto ensure that student-athletes are getting the academic support they need. The system includes regular communication with the athletes’ professors.
“When I get student-athletes in my class, I get emails from the athletic offices asking for progress reports, how the students are performing and informing me on their schedule,” Marie K. Shanahan, an associate professor of journalism at UConn, said.
The NCAA established the APR in the early 2000s to hold universities accountable for student-athletes’ academic progress.
All Division I teams are required to maintain an APR of 930. If a team fails to reach this mark, it can be subject to post-season penalties.
UConn’s men’s basketball team was punished in 2013 by the NCAA for a low APR.
“After they were banned from postseason play in 2013 or as that ban was becoming a reality, they really sought to beef up their academic support system,” Amore said.
Although penalties may seem harsh to some players and coaches, the NCAA says they are needed to make sure student-athletes are graduating.
“The NCAA members put the 930 requirement in place for participation in championships because that benchmark predicts a fifty-percent graduation rate for that team,” Michelle Brutlag Hosick, associate director of public relations for the NCAA, said in an email. “Members believe that teams should be successful in the classroom as well as on the field in order to participate in NCAA championships.”
Britney Barton is a student at John F. Kennedy High School, Waterbury.