Breaking down WSU hoops APR for next year

I RECEIVED A frantic email today from a Cougar basketball fan (actually he sent four frantic emails but who's counting) wondering if the Cougs were in trouble next year with the APR -- and if they would receive a postseason ban. I looked into the matter, and here's what I found...

What I found was slight cause for concern, but it would be a stretch to say circumstances are dire.

Now, there's math involved here, with a fair number of caveats built into the system, so our conclusions shouldn't cast in stone. In fact, Jeff Nusser at CougCenter did nice work HERE crunching the numbers yesterday and came to a different conclusion.

WSU's four-year rolling average this year was 938, with the NCAA standard being 930 - below that mark triggers potential penalties. And WSU loses a 963 single-year score from their four-year average at this time next year.

But a 939 single-year score next year, combined with the previous three single-year scores -- 900, 962, 926 -- would average out to a 932 score. (A school can also post a two-year score of 940 and avoid a postseason ban but for the sake of simplicity, we'll stick with the four-year rolling average.)

WSU will take a hit on next year's APR score with Danny Lawhorn, who will count as 0-out-of-2 possible points. (A player is awarded two potential points per semester, four points per year -- one for staying in school, one for remaining in good academic standing. If a player leaves mid-semester like Lawhorn did, he counts as an 0-for-2.)

Because Lawhorn left in the winter, WSU's total is 48 points out of 50 possible points, or a 960 APR score, before looking at the rest of the team.

But those fretting over the departures of Royce Woolridge and James Hunter, and the potential drag they could have on the Cougs' APR score next year, can stop worrying.

The NCAA assesses no penalty for a player leaving early for the pros as long as he left in good academic standing. I'm hearing from someone close to the Hunter family that Hunter did indeed complete this semester and was in good standing. So he would count as three points out of a possible three. (Note: I'm also told Hunter may graduate by the time the academic year comes to a close later this summer, which would mean he would count as 4-out-of-4 in possible points. In either event, Hunter will only positively impact WSU's score.)

Woolridge will also leave posting a perfect APR score – he told CF.C last month all his classwork would be completed after this semester and he would graduate after completing an internship this summer. So he counts for four points out of a possible four.

If Hunter is a 3-for-3, WSU would now be looking at a score of 47 out of 49, or a 959. As long as the rest of the team takes care of business in the classroom, as expected, the Cougs aren't in any danger of being penalized. If a player were on the edge, he would still have summer school to take care of it.

And a quick calculation in the above scenario shows WSU would have to see three of the remaining scholie players score deficiently in a semester for WSU to then next year fall below a four-year APR score of 930.

Remember, student-athletes get two points each semester: one for staying in school, one for good academic standing. Not all departures are treated equally in the NCAA's metric. Lawhorn was an 0-for-2. Another student-athlete, one not in good academic standing but who stays in school, receives 1 out of 2 possible points.

From this chair, therefore, it does not look like WSU will be in danger of a sub-930 four-year or sub-940 two-year average APR score next year. But let's play devil's advocate. Let's say the unexpected occurs. There's still the Ernie Kent factor to take into consideration.

Kent's Oregon teams, in the six full years of the APR's existence, averaged a 958.3 score. When a team falling below the APR benchmark has submitted an academic plan with a coach who has a good academic track record, the NCAA has looked favorably upon them. Look back to 2009 for one example.

That's when the academic plan put in place by Paul Wulff and furnished to the NCAA resulted in the NCAA not assessing any penalties on the WSU football team, despite being three points below the four-year benchmark (then 925.)

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