Arkansas Muddled in APR Mess

FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas men's basketball team did not lose scholarships when the NCAA released its Academic Progress Rate.

But it doesn't mean Arkansas coach John Pelphrey and the basketball program can breathe easier anytime soon.

The men's basketball team's four-year score of 888, which was revealed Wednesday, fell well below the NCAA's 925 cutline. It was the only Arkansas team that missed the mark. It may not have resulted in scholarship losses now, but athletic director Jeff Long acknowledged Arkansas is in "jeopardy" for the next several years because of both the NCAA's immediate and historical penalties.

"This is a four-year score," Long said. "This is not a one-year situation. We didn't get this score in one year. We got it in four years. And consequently it's going to take us three to four years to pull this score back up to where we want it to be ... above the 925 cutline."

The APR was established five years ago as part of the NCAA's academic reform program. In its simplest terms, it awards scholarship athletes with as many as two points a semester. One point is awarded for eligibility and another is awarded for retention.

Arkansas, which scored a 944 last year, ran into trouble with its 2007-08 team. None of its six seniors graduated. Two others transferred. One more, Patrick Beverley, left school early.

As a result, the Razorbacks four-year score fell below 925 and was subject to scholarship losses for players that weren't eligible or retained. Arkansas did not lose any scholarships this year because every departed player that left the program was in good academic standing.

But Arkansas couldn't avoid receiving a public notice — the first phase of the NCAA's historical penalties — for scoring under 900 on Wednesday.

If its four-year score remains below 900 next year Arkansas will incur phase two of the NCAA's historical penalties. That includes the loss of scholarships and practice time.

"It's a possibility," Long said. "We're working hard to avoid those things, but with our scores where they are, that is a possibility."

The men's basketball team was one of 117 issued immediate or historical penalties across the country Wednesday, according to the NCAA. It also was one of 4 percent of teams nationally with APR scores below 900.

Long said Arkansas is taking a proactive approach to improving its APR score in men's basketball, but acknowledged that another low score is expected when 2008-09 numbers are released next spring. Three players have left the team and a fourth, forward Michael Washington, could follow.

So the Razorbacks know APR improvement will take time, opening the program up to the possibility of penalties for several years.

"Our current APR score is a reflection of many factors including a significant amount of transition in the time period evaluated," Pelphrey said in a university statement. " ... I am optimistic that our continued emphasis and proactive approach will result in an improved team APR rating."

Arkansas and the APR

The Arkansas men's basketball team had fared well in APR ratings since the NCAA began keeping data as part of its Academic Reform Plan in 2003-04. Until this year. The Razorbacks fell well below the 925 cutline when 2007-08 statistics were announced by the NCAA. Here is a look at the basketball APR scores for the past five years.

Year Scores (Years Included in Statistics)

2007-08 888 (2007-08, 2006-07, 2005-06, 2004-05)

2006-07 944 (2006-07, 2005-06, 2004-05, 2003-04)

2005-06 944 (2005-06, 2004-05, 2003-04)

2005-05 979 (2003-04, 2004-05)

2003-04 958 (2003-04)

Arkansas' Academic Progress Rate

Men's Sports Multi-year Rate

Baseball 945

Basketball 888

Cross Country 943

Football 927

Golf 945

Tennis 959

Indoor Track 964

Outdoor Track 970

Women's Sports Multi-year Rate (Scholarship Athletes)

Basketball 975

Cross Country 977

Golf 1000

Gymnastics 991

Softball 964

Soccer 991

Swimming 965

Tennis 932

Indoor Track 954

Outdoor Track 960

Volleyball 959

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