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June 24, 2010

Pitt teams earn good grades from NCAA

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

The report measures teams against the academic progress rate (APR) that the NCAA developed six 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 2005-06 through 2008-09. The average APR for all Division I teams is 967, up three points from last year’s average.

Pitt teams’ APRs ranged from a low of 932 for baseball to a perfect 1,000 for women’s gymnastics and women’s tennis.

Men’s basketball and football, the two major revenue-generating sports, both fared well compared to Division I peers in the latest report. The men’s basketball team’s score was 962, compared with the national average for all 343 Division I men’s basketball teams’ score of 940; the Pitt football team’s score was 973, compared to the national average of 944 for all 243 Division I football teams.

Under NCAA policies, teams with an APR below 925 can lose scholarships, and scores below 900 can trigger more severe “historical” sanctions, including restrictions on financial aid, postseason competition and practice time.

On the penalty side, 137 teams at 80 different colleges and universities have received an immediate or historical sanction. Last year, 177 teams at 107 schools received penalties. There are more than 6,400 teams in Division I.

A total of 79 teams did not earn a 925 APR and had at least one student-athlete leave school while ineligible for competition, and thus have incurred immediate scholarship losses. Of those, 11 teams lost immediate scholarships and received their first historically based penalty (public warning) for posting an APR below 900.

Another 15 teams under 900 APR received a public warning; 31 teams received practice restrictions, and one has received a postseason ban.

Nine other teams faced the possibility of a championship ban but received conditional waivers this year because of demonstrated academic improvement.Six of those teams received scholarship and/or practice time penalties and three received waivers from all penalties. These teams must remain above the historical penalty threshold for three straight years or face the postseason ban penalty in the future.

The APR breakdown of Pitt’s 19 Division I teams is available at

—Peter Hart

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