The Division I Committee on Academics this week continued working to define what academic success looks like for college athletes.
Discussion at its meetings Monday and Tuesday in Indianapolis included a preliminary examination of the Academic Progress Rate, aimed at determining if the metric is accomplishing what its creators intended.
The review was begun at the request of the college and university presidents who attended the2015 Division I Strategic Summit. The Committee on Academics also has discussed initiating a school-by-school assessment of academic achievement to compare student-athlete graduation rates with those of the student body.
This approach would allow a school to review how its student-athletes compare with the rest of its campus population, as opposed to how they stack up to student-athletes nationwide.
“The Academic Performance Program is one of the greatest success stories in Division I history. It’s truly changed not only the culture of the division’s membership but also how the public views student-athletes who compete at the NCAA’s highest levels,” said committee chair Roderick J. McDavis, president of Ohio University. “But even with the great results we are seeing, it’s appropriate to review the program and make sure it’s doing what we intended it to do.”
Committee members reviewed data that showed more and more teams are achieving above the 930 benchmark, a trend that has continued since the program began collecting data in 2003-04. However, the original intent of the program was to identify teams that need to improve academically.
The metric still identifies the lowest academic achievers as intended, the committee determined, but some elements of it deserve monitoring, including its relationship to graduation. Teams with a 930 rate, the benchmark for both penalties and access to championships, is associated with a graduation rate of approximately 50 percent.
The committee also supported further development of a way to assess academic achievement at a local level, with a focus on the quality of the student-athlete experience, how a school handles at-risk student-athletes and data tracking of academic outcomes.
The committee will continue its work on the metrics over the next several meetings. The group also began a conversation about whether some student-athletes’ progress toward graduation is slowed in order to pair degree completion with eligibility completion. The committee will survey academic professionals to determine whether the issue is extensive and requires further discussion.
The group also discussed the policy that adjusts the APR calculation for student-athletes who transfer after earning a 2.6 grade-point average or higher, among other requirements. The current rule allows teams to forgive the retention point for students who transfer to another four-year school after earning the minimum 2.6 GPA and other academic credentials.
The group solicited data from the National Student Clearinghouse, and further analysis of the data could lead the committee to make adjustments to the transfer adjustment policy in the future.
Additionally, the committee modified recommendations it made earlier this year that would enhance academic accountability for graduate students.
The committee will now recommend the Division I Council introduce legislation that would require graduate students to take graduate level courses to satisfy the obligation that they be enrolled in and pass six hours per term. For graduate students who designate a degree program, the six hours must apply to their specific degree.
The previous recommendation would have required all graduate students to declare a degree program, but committee members recognized the requirement was too burdensome on students who stay at the school from which they graduated.
Currently, all graduate students who transfer schools must declare a degree program. Many schools require graduate students to enroll in an ”at-large” graduate program before being allowed to enter a specific graduate program. Data show that about half of Division I schools have at-large graduate programs. The committee recognized the challenge this poses to these schools and student-athletes and modified its original proposal to balance enhanced graduate eligibility requirements with practical considerations and student-athlete educational opportunities.