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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Calipari "We'll be Over 925" (NCAA Mandated Academic Progress Rating)

Calipari: We'll be over 925
Basketball, two other Tiger squads fall short

By Dan Wolken
May 3, 2007

Three University of Memphis varsity programs -- men's basketball, men's soccer and men's cross country -- fell short of the NCAA's mandated Academic Progress Rating score of 925, according to figures released Wednesday that take into account three years worth of data.

Though those programs won't be subject to immediate penalties, they'll be dangerously close to losing scholarships if they don't improve when the four-year averages are released next year.

Basketball coach John Calipari, however, said his program monitors the APR on a month-by-month basis and projects to be over 925 by September. Men's basketball is currently at 916.

"We're going to be over unless something outrageous happens, which I don't see," Calipari said. "As we get into the guys enrolling in September, we'll be over the 925 and at 928 or something like that, which is pretty good. I understand where we are now, but where we were six years ago, it was a struggle to get the thing right."

The NCAA introduced the APR -- a formula that measures the eligibility and retention of student-athletes -- as a replacement for the traditional graduation rates. A 925 is supposed to equate to roughly 60 percent graduation and frees programs from any potential penalties.

Programs that score between 900 and 925 could lose scholarships next year if a student-athlete left school while academically ineligible.

"Every indication we have is that -- we're in final exams right now -- if everything plays out, our four-year rate when it is released right now will be above a 925," Joe Luckey, director of the school's Center for Athletic Academic Services, said.

"If for some reason after this year we don't get it above the 925, as long as nobody leaves our team ineligible, we wouldn't have a penalty."

The U of M men's soccer team scored 922, and the indoor/outdoor track team scored 895.

The UofM's 12 other varsity sports are in no danger of losing scholarships. Football came in at 954, which ranks in the top 30 percent. Baseball scored 958, well above the Division 1 average of 934. Women's basketball earned a public recognition award for ranking in the top 10 percent with a score of 992.

In the APR system, a team earns points for retaining players and keeping them NCAA eligible. Memphis has lost points in men's basketball mainly due to defections of players like Sean Banks, Ivan Lopez and Tank Beavers.

For players who have left early to turn professional, schools can file a waiver to get the retention point restored as long as they were academically eligible when they left.

"Most of the points we're losing are the retention points," Luckey said. "Across the board, for our sports that are losing points, it's because students aren't coming back to school... You're going to have students that come into athletic teams and they're going to leave. It's not realistic to think in a four year average we'll have teams with perfect scores."

-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365

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