State Anticipates Good A.P.R. Grades

The national report card won't be released until 1:30ct Wednesday. Mississippi State officials know their own scores, though, and are confident that when the NCAA announces the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) list all of the Bulldog teams will have earned passing grades.

Based on academic data submitted to the NCAA for the 2005-06 academic year, Mississippi State men's and women's teams were all able to either exceed or fall within acceptable range of the national body's established score for graduation rates. These rates are graded both for the single academic year and over an extended period, the latter the more meaningful number in terms of maintaining a full quota of athletic scholarships.

The ‘magic number' is 925, determined by an arbitrary formula that summarizes both graduations and failures, along with transfers of eligible and ineligible scholarship players. Through this year the NCAA is actually accepting team scores between 900 and 925, but starting next year the goal is 925 graded over a four-year period. Failure to meet that will cost those teams scholarships, up to a maximum penalty of 10% of that sport's total allowed.

According to MSU officials, all but three teams exceeded the 925 threshold. Those who didn't were football, men's basketball, and men's outdoor track. However all of them should fall safely into the lee-way range. In fact football and track look to be somewhere the 920s-range, and based on the progress of current spring rosters officials expect each to have no trouble surpassing the 925 mark by the next national report, in fall.

Thus Mississippi State has no concerns of being docked and scholarships based on the spring release. However, the current scores do not take into account final spring grades and graduations; exams conclude this week. Nor does it allow for players who have left or will leave, either failed or transferred, for spring. Here basketball, with its smaller roster size, has some reason for concern since three underclassmen are transferring, fortunately all eligible which limits the APR damage. But further transfers, particularly if it is an ineligible player, could pull the one-year score below 900, as would a current senior not completing the semester.

Still this is a very encouraging report for Mississippi State student-athletes, and most of all for football given the number of players who chose to transfer in the past three years. Those losses have been offset by the efforts of the rest of the upperclassmen to complete degree work either after their last year or later. APR rates can be adjusted retroactively if players return to finish their degrees.

The APR system was established by the NCAA in reaction to low graduation rates of student-athletes. Teams and schools which fail to graduate sufficient numbers of their scholarship athletes face penalties starting next year. Though, teams that know such penalties are coming can take the ‘hit' a year early by intentionally not awarding the full quota of grants.

Men's basketball is expected to show especially bad APR rates nation-wide, though college baseball has typically had the lowest APR due to the Major League draft and liberal transfer policies.

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