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May 14, 2009

Pitt teams exceed NCAA academic standards

All of Pitt’s 19 Division I sports teams exceeded standards established for academic performance in the latest “report card” issued last week by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The report measures teams against the academic progress rate (APR) that the NCAA developed five years ago as a way to gauge college athletes’ progress toward earning their degrees. Scores are assigned based on eligibility, retention rates and degree-completion rates. The benchmark score of 925 out of a possible 1,000 equals roughly a 60 percent success rate in graduating players within six years.

The NCAA report reflects the four-year average for every team over the academic years 2004-05 through 2007-08. The average APR for all Division I teams is 964.

Pitt teams’ APRs ranged from a low of 938 for baseball to 1,000 for women’s gymnastics and women’s tennis.

Men’s basketball and football, the two major revenue-generating sports, both fared well in the latest report. The basketball team’s score was 965, placing it in the top 20 percent of like teams nationally, and the football team’s score was 944.

In a May 6 press release, Pitt athletics director Steve Pederson stated, “Today’s report is a great reflection of the priorities of the University of Pittsburgh. Graduating our student-athletes from this outstanding institution is the No. 1 goal. Academic success starts with the commitment of the student-athletes, but also combines the support of our coaches and fine work of our academic support services staff.”

Teams with an APR below 925 can lose scholarships, and scores below 900 can trigger more severe sanctions, including restrictions on financial aid, postseason competition and practice time.

Nationally, nearly 600 of the roughly 6,300 Division I sports teams scored below the 925 minimum standard. The NCAA issued sanctions to 177 teams at 107 colleges. Of those, 104 will lose scholarships. For the first time, the NCAA has banned three teams from postseason competition for their poor academic performance, according to press materials released May 6.

Overall, women’s teams scored higher than men’s teams. Only one-quarter of all teams scoring below the cutoff of 925 were women’s programs, and those accounted for only a half-dozen of the teams receiving penalties.

Men’s basketball, football and baseball teams accounted for more than 40 percent of all the low-scoring squads, and drew more than half of all the penalties the NCAA handed out.

The full NCAA report is available online at

—Peter Hart

How Pitt teams scored

In a report issued May 6 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, all of Pitt’s 19 Division I sports teams exceeded minimum standards established for academic performance.A score below 925 can cost a team scholarships, and scores below 900 can trigger more severe sanctions. The maximum score is 1,000; the average for all Division I teams was 964.

Men’s teams

Baseball: 938

Basketball: 965

Cross country: 969

Football: 944

Soccer: 957

Swimming: 968

Track (indoor): 959

Track (outdoor): 969

Wrestling: 979

Women’s teams

Basketball: 976

Cross country: 978

Gymnastics: 1,000

Soccer: 984

Softball: 968

Swimming: 988

Tennis: 1,000

Track (indoor): 973

Track (outdoor) 973

Volleyball: 970

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