As we reported more than a year ago now, Colorado will announce a substandard score for football in its Academic Progress Rate report based on the 2008-09 school year.
The NCAA is scheduled to release its annual APR reports today. Those reports are always a year old and based on the results of the previous academic year. The APR system can be convoluted and confusing to those who are unfamiliar with it, but it can also be fairly simple to predict the score a program will generate in a given year if you know a few key details, including the previous scores over the prior four years and whether student-athletes who left the program during the year did so academically eligible or not.
The reason Dan Hawkins’ football program failed the APR for the 2008-09 schoolyear was a slew of players who left the program that year, some academically ineligible such as Lynn Katoa, Lamont Smith and Nate Vaiomounga.
When your score falls below the standard and players have left academically ineligible, one of the first penalties imposed by the NCAA is loss of scholarships. The NCAA allows the program to decide when it will serve that penalty. Colorado took the five-scholarship hit a year ago by undersigning in its 2009 recruiting class and not using its full allotment of scholarships during the 2009 season.
The official APR release comes at a bad time for Colorado, which is in the spotlight as a candidate to join the Pac-10 in conference expansion. Some in Texas already have latched on to the story (as if it’s fresh news) and are using it to attempt to enhance Baylor as an option for the Pac-10 instead of CU.
APR only tells one side of the academic story for any program. It’s an effective tool for monitoring how good programs are at retaining and graduating student-athletes during a particular period. Hawkins is fond of pointing out the other side of the academic story in his program, which is that in the past three semesters for which grades are available, his team has set program records for the highest team GPA.