LSU’s athletic programs all received passing grades Wednesday in the NCAA’s annual report of Academic Progress Rates, though two sports have work to do to meet rising standards in the future.
Men’s basketball and men’s cross country both came in with four-year average scores of 911, above the threshold of 900 to avoid postseason penalties but below the mark of 930 that is the new benchmark starting with the 2012-13 academic year.
The four-year window that counts toward the current APR rates runs from 2007-11. Points are awarded each semester for academic eligibility and retention, with two points possible per semester per student-athlete.
A mark of 930 is roughly equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate.
Men’s basketball was docked one scholarship in the 2011-12 season for last year’s APR average of 905, but the program will incur no penalties this season, said senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar.
Still, the score doesn’t sit well with first-year men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones.
“We’re certainly disappointed to say the least by these scores,” Jones said. “But like everything else we feel we have the resources in place for our student-athletes to be successful. Our plans are to make sure we do everything to point them in the right direction to see improvement on the court as well as the classroom.”
Men’s basketball does have to reach a four-year average of 930 by the 2014-15 academic year to avoid potential postseason penalties. The program could also avoid potential penalties by 2014-15 if it has an average APR score of 940 for the two years prior, which would be 2012-13 and 2013-14.
“We don’t anticipate having an issue,” Segar said. “But basketball has such a small sample size, if two or three kids leave your program it hurts and the numbers stay with you for a long time.”
Aside from men’s basketball and men’s cross country, every other LSU sport had an APR average score of 942 or higher.
Football came in with a score of 964, just two points lower than its score last year, ending a string of six straight years of rising APR scores.
However, LSU football was still well above the national football average of 948.
Baseball’s APR score of 987 marked the sixth straight increase for the program, up from 965 in 2011 and 938 in 2010.
LSU ranked behind only Vanderbilt (996) among Southeastern Conference baseball programs and well above the sport’s national average of 965.
In all, 11 of LSU’s 20 athletic programs scored 980 or higher, led by a 1,000 from women’s cross country.
The others included baseball, men’s golf (994), women’s golf (993), volleyball (990), women’s tennis (984), women’s indoor track and field (984), women’s outdoor track and field (984), men’s swimming and diving (983), gymnastics (981), women’s swimming and diving (980).
The rest of LSU’s scores included men’s tennis (978), soccer (976), women’s basketball (972), softball (971), men’s outdoor track and field (944) and men’s indoor track and field (942).
Women’s cross country posted a score of 1,000 for the third straight year, while women’s golf has been above 990 for the past four years and men’s golf has been above 990 the past three.
“These results are significant because they show the emphasis LSU coaches, student-athletes and counselors put on academic progress and achievement,” athletic director Joe Alleva said in a university news release. “We emphasize to our student-athletes that it is important to be successful in the academic arena as well as the athletic arena.”
A number of schools received penalties from the NCAA on Wednesday. Among them were postseason bans for 15 programs that included three-time men’s basketball champion Connecticut.
Louisiana-Monroe men’s basketball fell on the penalized list with a score of 843, but the program received a waiver from the NCAA making the Warhawks eligible for postseason play in 2013 with a full compliment of 13 scholarships.
ULM will continue to have restrictions on practices and number of games, however.
This is the ninth year that APR standards have been in place. The overall Division I APR average rose by three points to 973 this year.
“We expect student-athletes to meet their dual responsibilities,” said NCAA President and former LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert, “and most of them are doing so.”