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March 16, 2006

18 of 19 Pitt teams meet NCAA standards

Eighteen of Pitt’s 19 Division I sports team met or exceeded standards for academic performance established last year by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Only men’s basketball fell below the minimum guidelines in the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) report released this month by the NCAA.

The APR is a “real time” measure of a student-athlete’s academic performance that awards points for retention, eligibility and graduation on a term-by-term basis each year.

The guidelines apply only to full-time student-athletes on full or partial scholarships.

(See University Times Feb. 15, 2005.)

The latest NCAA report, which covers the 2003-04 and 2004-05 academic years, reflects the two-year averages for each varsity team.

Teams with a two-year average APR score under 925 are subject to scholarship penalties by the NCAA if they are not within a designated “confidence boundary,” a statistically driven margin of error range established to account for teams with relatively few scholarship players.

While the men’s basketball team’s two-year average score of 905 was below 925, the team’s score still fell within the confidence boundary, and therefore no penalties were assessed by the NCAA.

“Because a basketball team is made up of such a small group, the actions of one or two individuals can significantly affect a score and that was the case in this current report,” said Jeff Long, Pitt athletics director.

The basketball team specifically lost points on three players — two who earned their degrees before their athletic eligibility was exhausted but who did not complete spring term courses taken to maintain their eligibility, as well as one who turned professional — that had an effect on its overall score.

“However, the big picture in men’s basketball is that all of our players are on track to graduate, and academic performance is a high priority for our players and staff,” Long said.

Fifteen of Pitt’s 19 teams exceeded the Division I national average for its sports, including football with a 943 score — 13 points above the national average. Volleyball had a perfect score of 1,000, ranking it among the nation’s top 10 percent in its sport.

Nationwide, 99 teams — or about 2 percent of the more than 6,000 varsity squads that compete in Division I — from 65 colleges will lose scholarships over the next year, the NCAA announced on March 1.

Sixty-one of the 99 teams are baseball, football or men’s basketball.

—Peter Hart

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