UT announces Academic Progress Rates

Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT/Submitted)-- The University of Tennessee announced Academic Progress Rates (APR) for its athletics teams on Tuesday, including three programs that received APR Public Recognition Awards for posting a multi-year APR score in the top 10 percent in their sports nationally: Women's Golf, Rowing, and Women's Tennis. The golf program earned this distinction for the fourth consecutive year, while tennis received the honor for the second consecutive year and rowing for the first time.

In addition, nine Tennessee teams posted a 2011-12 APR of 1000: Men’s Golf, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Golf, Softball, Rowing, Women’s Tennis, Women’s Indoor Track, Women’s Outdoor Track, and Volleyball. As announced on May 23, UT student-athletes posted a cumulative GPA of 3.05, the highest since 2003, the earliest year for which sport-by-sport data is available. A record 115 student-athletes were named to their respective Dean’s Lists, and 10 programs recorded a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

The Academic Progress Rate, now in its ninth year, measures the eligibility and retention of scholarship student-athletes competing on every Division I athletics team, measuring progress toward degree while also serving as a predictor of graduation success. The most recent APR scores are based on a multi-year rate that averages scores from the most recent four-year period, encompassing the 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 academic years.

Tennessee’s 2011-12 and multi-year academic progress rates for individual sports were:

SPORTS Multi-Year 2011-12

Baseball 942 935

Basketball (M) 973 960

Basketball (W) 990 957

Cross Country (M) 936 964

Cross Country (W) 989 960

Football 924 909

Golf (M) 963 1000

Golf (W) 1000 1000

Rowing 1000 1000

Softball 970 1000

Soccer 959 938

Swimming & Diving (M) 970 943

Swimming & Diving (W) 989 975

Tennis (M) 991 1000

Tennis (W) 1000 1000

Track, Indoor (M) 946 978

Track, Outdoor (M) 946 978

Track, Indoor (W) 995 1000

Track, Outdoor (W) 995 1000

Volleyball 995 1000

As noted in the above table, the football program has a current multi-year APR of 924. The minimum APR threshold to avoid penalties increases from 900 to 930 beginning with next year’s APR scores, which will encompass the academic years of 2009-10 through 2012-13.

“Supporting student-athlete success in the classroom is a top priority at the University of Tennessee, and we are proud that eight of our teams posted a perfect APR score during the 2011-12 academic year,” said Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. “While our current football APR score is well below our expectations, we believe that the team’s academic performance during the 2012-13 school year and the improvements made in our structure over the last year have us strongly positioned for the future.”

During the past year, several corrective measures have been put in place at the University of Tennessee to improve the overall support structure for all sports programs, with a focus on academically at-risk student-athletes. This process is ongoing, and the academic improvement for the football program over the last two semesters is already considerable.

“I believe that once we identified the APR issues with our football program, we have done everything necessary to address them,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “I am proud of the performance in the classroom by our student-athletes over the last two semesters, and I have great confidence that we have put past issues behind us and will only continue to improve.”

The academic progress being made by the football program is exemplified by the 2.80 grade-point average (GPA) in the Spring of 2013 under new head football coach Butch Jones, the highest for the program in the spring semester since sport-by-sport data began to be tracked by the institution in 2003.

A total of 46 football student-athletes posted a 3.0 GPA or higher, also the highest since data tracking began sport-by-sport. The recent semester’s academic performance by the football team followed a Fall 2012 semester in which football student-athletes posted a 2.49 GPA, a considerable improvement over the 2.08 posted in the Fall of 2011.

“Academics are at the forefront of the priorities within our football team, and we are excited with the results in the classroom from the spring semester,” said Jones, who was hired on Dec. 7, 2012. “We are moving forward with a great plan and structure that alleviates past academic concerns, and we are confident of avoiding any APR issues. Everything is in place to provide the best possible environment for achieving academic success for our student-athletes as we continue to move forward.”

The Thornton Athletics Student Life Center, created to provide student-athletes with academic support programs and assist with both personal and career development, has undergone significant changes, most notably in leadership. The new leader of the Thornton Center is Dr. Joe Scogin, who assumed the role of senior associate athletics director and assistant provost in April 2013, joining Tennessee from the University of Missouri.

A comprehensive evaluation of the Thornton Center operations in order to provide for greater effectiveness and a stronger impact on the academic success of all student-athletes is ongoing. Additionally, a new comprehensive departmental class attendance policy was created and implemented, effective with the Fall semester of 2012.

The academic progress towards degree requirements require a student-athlete to complete various percentages toward degree completion, specific grade-point averages, and other requirements to remain eligible to compete. Assisting student-athletes in meeting these requirements is a critical function of the Thornton Center, as is calculating and forecasting APR scores.

The University also encourages former student-athletes who left in good standing to return to school to achieve their degree. The Renewing Academic Commitment (RAC) Program works with former student-athletes by assisting them with advice on degree requirements remaining, course scheduling, tutoring, employment and internship opportunities offered through the Career Development and Life Skills department, and use of the Thornton Center for their everyday needs.

The following are a few notes on the academic success of Tennessee's student-athletes:

· During the 2012-2013 academic year, 77 current and former student-athletes graduated from the University of Tennessee, continuing Tennessee athletics' tradition of commitment to the classroom, including 48 in Spring 2013.

· A total of 21 University of Tennessee student-athletes earned a 4.0 grade-point average in Spring 2013, while 80 percent earned 2.5 or higher (up from 76% in 2012), 58 percent earned 3.0 or higher (up from 56%), and 31 percent were at or above the 3.5 threshold (up from 26%).

· More than 75 former student-athletes have returned to earn their bachelor's degree through the RAC program.

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