Hokies’ APR in Good Shape Overall, but Trails Most of the ACC

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Hokies’ APR in Good Shape Overall, but Trails
Most of the ACC

The NCAA released its first set of Academic Progress Report (APR) figures
this past Monday, and for Virginia Tech athletics, there was good news and bad news.
The good news is that nearly all of Virginia Tech’s athletic programs are good
academic shape. The bad news is that the Hokies’ APR figures trail nearly every
school in the ACC.

First, an APR primer. The NCAA has installed a new academic scoring system
(if you will) that awards two points for every athlete in every semester. An
athlete gets one point each semester for being eligible (an eligibility point),
and one point each semester for staying enrolled at the school (a retention
point), meaning an athlete can score up to two points per semester and four
points per year.

The points are totaled up for a team, divided by the number of total points
possible, and then multiplied by 1,000 to yield the school’s APR for that sport.
The NCAA has mandated that the APR must stay at 925 or above for a given sport,
which equates to a 50% graduation rate over a six-year period.

If the APR for a team falls below 925, and an athlete drops out while
ineligible, then the school faces the possible loss of a scholarship in that

Eventually, the NCAA will apply the APR over a four-year rolling average. The
data released so far are for just one year, the 2003-04 academic year, and the
first penalties won’t be levied until December of 2005, when the Spring 2005
semester data are added in. For now, until schools can accumulate a four-year
set of data, the NCAA has built in a margin of error that will allow teams to
score less than 925 without penalty. So while some teams were flagged with a
score less than 925 in the first set of data, that doesn’t mean those teams will
lose scholarships in December. Some will, some won’t.

Example: Academic U. goes through a full school year with 13 men’s
basketball players. Eleven of them are eligible and stay at AU all year long, so
each of those 11 players earn four points (44 points). Player No. 12 is eligible
all year long (two eligibility points) but leaves school before the start of the
spring semester (one retention point for fall, 0 for spring). Player No. 13 is
eligible and enrolled in the fall (2 fall points), but becomes ineligible in the
spring and drops out (0 spring points).

That means that out of 52 possible points (4 points times 13 players = 52
points), AU tallied 49 points. Divide 49 by 52 (0.942), multiply by 1,000, and
you get an APR of 942 for Academic U. for the school year in men’s basketball.
Not perfect, but good enough for the NCAA.

(Author’s Disclaimer: the above calculation was done assuming I read the APR
descriptions correctly and did the example calculation correctly. If there’s a
news report tomorrow that the NCAA put me on probation, then you know I messed
it up. But I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.)

At this point, with just one year of data available, there are two types of
scores below 925 — those within the margin of error that won’t lead to
penalties next December, and those outside the margin of error, which might lead
to penalties next December. When the NCAA reported the figures Monday, they
differentiated between sub-925 scores within the margin of error and sub-925
scores outside the margin of error by adding a “+” sign to scores
within the margin of error. So a score of 888+ is within the margin of error and
not subject to penalties, while a score of 833 without a plus sign is not within
the margin of error and may be subject to penalties.

Virginia Tech’s APR Scores

The NCAA provided APR scores for 19 Virginia Tech sports — ten men’s sports
and nine women’s sports. The Hokie report breaks down like this:



Overall APR


D1-A Ave. Overall APR


ACC Ave. Overall APR




Men’s Basketball


Men’s Cross Country




Men’s Golf


Men’s Soccer


Men’s Swimming


Men’s Tennis


Men’s Out. Track




Women’s Basketball


Women’s Cross Country


Women’s Lacrosse


Women’s Soccer




Women’s Swimming


Women’s Tennis


Women’s Out. Track




Perfect Score of 1000

Below 925, but with “upper
confidence boundary” of above 925

Below 925, with no “upper
confidence boundary”

  • 5 perfect scores of 1,000: men’s swimming, men’s outdoor track, women’s
    cross country, women’s soccer, and women’s swimming.

  • 11 scores from 925 to 999: men’s basketball, men’s cross country,
    football, men’s golf, wrestling, women’s basketball, women’s lacrosse,
    softball, women’s tennis, women’s outdoor track, and volleyball.

  • 2 scores below 925, but “within an estimated APR upper confidence
    boundary of 925 or above,” according to the NCAA — in other words, not
    subject to penalty next December: baseball and men’s soccer.

  • 1 score below 925, and in danger of penalty next December: men’s tennis.

As noted in the table, the Hokies’ overall APR is 952, eight points above the
NCAA average of 944 … but 13 points below the ACC average of 965. Here’s the
ranking of every ACC school, plus the NCAA average.

Overall APR
ACC Schools and
NCAA D1-A Average


APR Score













ACC Ave.












D1-A Ave.


NC State


While the Hokies are in good shape overall and well within the safe zone as a
whole, their APR is near the bottom of the ACC. The Hokies match or exceed the
NCAA Division 1-A average APR in 12 of the 19 sports VT sponsors, but they
exceed the ACC average in just six of 19 sports.

It’s going to take time for Virginia Tech, a historically under-funded
athletic program when compared to its new peer institutions in the ACC, to catch
up. Most of the schools in the ACC have enjoyed the monetary benefits of the ACC
for decades, and those monetary benefits, plus the academic culture of the ACC
as a whole, have enabled and motivated long-time ACC member schools to make sure
their athletes succeed in the classroom.

It’s no surprise to see the private schools — Duke, Wake Forest, BC, and
Miami — take four of the top six spots in the ACC. Historically, private
schools have retained not just athletes better, but their overall student
population better than typically larger, more impersonal state universities like
Virginia Tech, Clemson and NC State.

For the sport-by-sport breakdown of all programs in the ACC, allowing you to
see at a glance how the Hokies compare to the conference and to Division 1-A
averages in various sports, be sure to check out our TSL Pass article
Alphabet Soup: VT, the ACC, and the APR

APR References

The APR system is complex, and if you want to learn more, we suggest the
following articles:

Division I Schools, Academics Get Tougher

Washington Post, 03/01/2005

isn’t all academic for Division I schools

USA Today, 03/01/2005

kind of report card now

Raleigh News & Observer, 03/01/2005

cards: UNC, Duke OK; N.C. State low, but fine

Durham Herald-Sun, 03/01/2005

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