A primer to Cougs' scholarship and APR math

SCHOLARSHIP MATH. The APR. They are convoluted matters in the world of college football -- ones that can be difficult to add up because there are so many factors that go into the equation. With Sekope Kaufusi and C.J. Mizell no longer with the program, and JC linebacker Justin Sagote newly added, there is no better time to crank up a primer on the how and why of scholarship math and the APR.

It's one of the first questions asked when a player hangs up his cleats -- be it voluntarily due to injury (a la Louis Bland) or via a violation of teams rules (like Kaufusi) and Mizell ...

Does WSU get that scholie back to use on someone else this year?

Simple question. Not-so-simple answer.

So let's start at the beginning.

The key thing to remember in any scholarship equation is this: A school can have no more than 85 players on football scholarships per year, and they can put no more than 25 new players on scholarship per year. Of note: A new player can be either an incoming recruit or a veteran walk on who has not previously been on scholarship.

So let's say a given recruiting class numbers 25, and the school has 60 returning scholarship players. All 25 commits qualify and none are grayshirted, so everything is great -- the program has its 85 maximum slots accounted for perfectly.

That's a clean and easy example that doesn't often reflect the real world.

So let's look at the Washington State program at this very moment. With the brand new addition of Sagote to the 2012 recruiting class, the class now numbers 29.

That number includes the 27 listed on CF.C's 2012 commit page, plus two bounce backs from the 2011 class -- Rahmel Dockery and Alex Mitchell.

Further complicating the math is the fact one of the recruits in the Cougars' new class, Denzell Dotson graduated early from high school and enrolled at WSU in January.

So there are four members of the class who enrolled in January -- Dockery, Dotson, Mike Bowlin and Teondray Caldwell. One of them (and it doesn't matter who) can be counted toward the previous recruiting class -- the 2011 class -- because WSU had 24 initials that year. (The rules allow a school to count January enrollees against the previous class so long as that class' initials numbered less than 25. If WSU would have had, say, 23 on initial scholarship in 2011, then they could have had two of the four January enrollees count against the previous class.)

OK, so with one member of the 2012 class counting toward 2011, that means the Cougars' 2012 class now stands, effectively for our purposes, at 28. Which is three more than the maximum allowed in one year.

That's called oversigning, which is of course a customary practice in college football. Schools oversign so that they have flexibility if some players don't qualify academically. To get down to the 25 maximum, the group of 28 will see some combination of three grayshirts and/or academic qualification problems. Of course, if WSU decides to give one or more of its walk ons a scholarship for the first time, then the number three would have to grow by one for each walk on going on scholie. Of note: As CF.C readers pointed out, a walk on two years in the system put on scholarship for the first time counts against the 85 total but not the 25 class number.

If we presume there are no walk on scholies forthcoming, that means the Cougs need to go from 28 initial scholarships down to 25. WSU recruiting coordinator David Emerick has said that B.J. Salmonson, one of the offensive linemen in the 2012 class, will grayshirt. So that reduces the overage number to two. Unless the Cougs sign another player as they just did with Sagote, the bottom line is that they would need to grayshirt two more members of the class between now and August if everyone qualifies academically.

It all can be a little difficult to decipher at first, and nothing is exactly black and white, but if you start your analysis with the two building-blocks of scholarship math -- no more than 85 total scholarships and no more than 25 new ones in a year -- it all starts to make more sense.

AS FOR THE APR (Academic Progress Rate), that's a whole other ball of yarn. The pressing question of the day in Cougar Nation is this: How will the departures of Kaufusi and Mizell, (and T.J. Poloai) impact WSU's APR?

The simplest answer is that it will adversely affect WSU's APR, because any player who leaves the school for any reason before completing his eligibility counts as a ding on the APR number. The severity of the hit varies, however.

A player has two possible APR points to contribute to the tally -- one for being in good academic standing, one for remaining with the school. So a 4.0 GPA student-athlete on the football team could conceivably leave WSU, and WSU gets docked one point for that?!

Yep. Any player that leaves early costs a school one point. (Though rare, there does appear to be one exception, when a player in good standing departs for a medical reason.)

The retention penalty part of the APR is a sore spot for many. A few years back, WSU posted one of its best-ever team GPAs in football -- yet their corresponding APR score didn't to a similar degree reflect that.

So how does the APR work? Each team is graded by the NCAA on a 1,000-point scale. A four-year average score below 930 (the 930 figure represents an increase from 925 that was finalized by the NCAA back in October) can result in the loss of scholarships BUT ONLY IF it also comes with a student-athlete departing the institution while ineligible. And, under the NCAA's newly adopted standard from October, a team without a two-year average score of 930 or better, or a four-year average of 900 or worse, is also banned from postseason participation.

Other potential hits to a school's APR score can come when a player exhausts his eligibility, is in good standing with the university, but does not graduate in that term or the one immediately following it (i.e. running back Jerome Harrison a few years back is one example).

So, what does it mean for WSU in regard to Kaufusi, Mizell and Poloai? From what we've been able to gather from sources close to the situation, and when it comes time to tally up the score on this year, Poloai looks to be an 0-2, having left school soon after being dismissed.

Mizell was in good academic standing, as was Kaufusi, at the time of their dismissals. But we're also talking about something that is ongoing as of right now -- until the end of the term and the final tests and classes have all been completed, no one can definitively state how Mizell and Kaufusi, or any other player, will finish up since that has yet to occur. Things can still change for the worse, but it does appear the more likely scenario at this point is they would both count for one point, unlike Poloai.

ONE MORE THING to keep in mind. The three players listed above won't count in the latest APR figures, expected to be released in late May or early June. They'll go into the mix the next year.

When the APR comes out in a few months, the latest numbers will come from the 2010-11 year.

And when those numbers do come out, WSU will finally have freed themselves of the biggest drag on their four year rolling average -- the disastrous 874 score from 2006-07.

So this year's APR number, the 2010-11 year, will be added to: 2009-10 (944); 2008-09 (953); 2007-08 (926).

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • The 2008-09 score reflects Paul Wulff's first full year at the helm.

  • Through countless conversations with numerous individuals through the years, our take is that Washington State has had, and continues to have, a very hard-working, top-notch academic support staff. Whether a player is on the current roster, has been dismissed or retires from football, they continue to work to build an academic plan for the player. Some players who don't move on to play elsewhere have been able to stay at WSU and finish up their degrees, in large part, with the help of WSU's academic support staff. There's no question that Mizell and Kaufusi will continue to have excellent resources available to them as long as they're at WSU.

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