Due to the academic successes of its athletes, all of Lipscomb’s sports programs have escaped classroom-related penalties from the NCAA for the 12th straight year.
The Academic Progress Rate (APR) is a system put in place by the NCAA to help measure whether Division I schools are ensuring their student-athletes are doing well academically. First enforced in 2003, APR is a statistic that tracks the “eligibility” and “retention” of athletic programs and their athletes nationwide.
APR is calculated by giving one point per student-athlete in a given athletic program that is receiving financial aid for athletics, and another point if those students remain above the mandated academic thresholds. These points are added up, then divided by points possible, and finally multiplied by 1,000 to get the program’s total APR score.
Programs with low APR scores will be penalized, with the first penalty being a limitation on practice time (16 hours over five days instead of 20 over 6). The NCAA also averages out the APR scores from the past four years to see if the program meets the minimum 930 standards it has set, and if the program does not, it is in danger of receiving a ban from participation in championship games.
“It correlates an athlete’s ability to do the coursework,” said Lipscomb Athletic Director Philip Hutcheson. “A system that has some standards as opposed to not having any is probably the better approach,”
In a year that saw 12 programs across 20 schools receive penalties, all of Lipscomb’s programs received scores high enough to avoid the one of their own. Men’s and women’s golf received the highest multi-year scores at 1000, followed closely by women’s basketball (995), cross country (993), soccer (992), tennis (991), and track (990).
Men’s cross country (989) and women’s volleyball (989), softball (988), men’s basketball (986), soccer (984), baseball (983), track (982), and tennis (972) bring up the latter half of the Lipscomb rankings.
This continues a streak of academic excellence for the school and its student-athletes. The last time any of its programs received sanctions from the NCAA due to low APR was after the 2006-2007 ratings were released, in which both the men’s soccer (906) and baseball (904) programs received scholarship reduction penalties.
For Lipscomb, athletes having academic success begins at the very top, during the recruiting process, and continues throughout their college career, according to Hutcheson.
“We don’t want to recruit students who are by and large going to struggle just because they don’t have the academic background or ability to do well here,” said Hutcheson.
There is also a community element to consider where student-athletes are concerned, he said.
“Athletics often is one of the windows through which the community views a university,” Hutcheson said. “When you have an athletics program or department that does well academically, that also casts the university in a good light, and that’s important.”