NCAA APR Scores: Where the Big Ten is King, Duke and Northwestern are Football Juggernauts

By Jason Priestas on May 14, 2014 at 10:27p

The NCAA released Academic Progress Rate scores for member institutions Wednesday, and Ohio State remained in good standing scoring 972 in football and 977 in men's basketball.

The Academic Progress Report, or APR, was first published by the NCAA in 2005 and attempts to measure how teams from every school perform in the classroom. Academic eligibility, retention and graduation rates make up the core components of the rolling, four-year figure with 1,000 representing a perfect score.

B1G Multi-year APR, Football
School 2012-13 APR Change
Northwestern 991 -5
Wisconsin 989 +4
Nebraska 980 +8
Michigan 975 +24
Ohio State 972 -10
Indiana 972 +9
Iowa 969 +8
Minnesota 962 +7
Michigan State 962 +7
Purdue 961 +8
Illinois 957 -3
Penn State 954 -7

Teams that fall below 930 in a four-year period – which is the rough equivalent of something just north of a 50% graduation rate – or 940 over a two-year period, risk penalties, including restrictions on scholarships and practice time, and postseason bans.

Oklahoma State's football team will lose one practice day per week this season for a low score, while FBS members Idaho, UNLV and Alabama State received postseason bans. The Cowboys narrowly avoided a postseason ban, finishing a mere 3.54 points above the threshold.

Northwestern maintained its death grip on the Big Ten football APR rankings, posting a 991, down from the 996 the Wildcats posted for the 2011-12 school year. Wisconsin gained four points, to move within striking distance of the top spot.

While the Buckeyes placed fifth in the league with a football score of 972, the number is down 10 points from last year when Ohio State finished third in the Big Ten. Still, Ohio Stat's 972 ranks 17th football among "Power Five" conferences, and 26th among all FBS schools.

Michigan, meanwhile, shot up 24 points to 975 as Brady Hoke and his staff continue to polish the APR turd left by Rich Rodriguez. This cycle marked the first time since the 2006-07 academic year that the Wolverines topped Ohio State's APR score in football.

Football APR Top 25
Rank School 2012-13 APR
1 Duke 992
2 Northwestern 991
3 Wisconsin 989
4 Boise State 988
5 Utah State 988
6 Stanford 984
7 Clemson 983
8 Georgia Tech 983
9 Boston College 981
10 Rutgers 980
11 Nebraska 980
12 Missouri 980
13 South Carolina 980
14 UCLA 979
15 Central Florida 978
16 Virginia Tech 977
17 Army 976
18 Air Force 976
19 Michigan 975
20 Alabama 975
21 Rice 975
22 Mississippi State 974
23 Vanderbilt 974
24 Toledo 974
25 South Florida 973

Penn State brings up the rear in Big Ten football, with an APR score of 954, just five years removed from 2007-08, when the Nittany Lions led the Big Ten in football APR.

In all, eight Big Ten football teams posted gains, while four teams, Northwestern, Ohio State, Illinois and Penn State, saw their scores drop.

The Big Ten once again led all FBS conferences with an average football APR of 970.3. This, no doubt, pleases Jim Delany. Average football scores for the other power conferences: ACC (966.8), SEC (960.8), Pac 12 (957.3) and Big 12 (949.2).

Northwestern and Wisconsin would place second and third, respectively, in a top 25 based on football APR, with Nebraska (11) and Michigan (17) also making the cut.

Rutgers and Maryland, set to officially join the Big Ten this summer, will bring good and bad news on the football APR front. The Scarlet Knights posted a score of 980, tops in the American Athletic Conference, while Maryland scored 950, which ranks near the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland did see its football APR score rise 13 points from last season, however.

Rutgers was one of only five FBS teams, joining Northwestern, Boise State, Clemson and Duke, to finish in the top 10% of all programs for each of the past four years.

On the men's basketball side of the ledger, Indiana once again posted a perfect APR score of 1,000, to lead the Big Ten. The Hoosiers were one of seven basketball programs from power conferences to post a perfect score, joining Stanford, Florida, Kansas, Louisville, Memphis and Texas.

Michigan, with a basketball score of 990, finished second in the Big Ten, followed by Purdue (985), Northwestern (980) and Michigan State (980). Ohio State's basketball APR score, 977, placed the Buckeyes sixth in the Big Ten.

Four Big Ten programs, including Ohio State, posted gains from last year, led by Iowa's 18-point surge. Two saw no change in their basketball APR scores, while six league teams posted lower scores than last year.

B1G Multi-Year APR, Men's Hoops
School 2012-13 APR Change
Indiana 1000
Michigan 990 -5
Purdue 985 -10
Northwestern 980
Michigan State 980 +9
Ohio State 977 +5
Wisconsin 975 -5
Iowa 971 +18
Penn State 964 -10
Minnesota 960 +5
Illinois 957 -1
Nebraska 947 -10

Nebraska, one of the schools that saw a score drop, finished last in the Big Ten with an APR of 947, which is 10 points lower than the Cornhuskers posted for the 2011-12 school year.

Texas A&M's men's basketball program registered a 912, falling well below the threshold of 930 and setting the Aggies up for potential penalties next year unless improvements are made.

Ohio State saw perfect scores in six sports: women's volleyball, women's tennis, women's gymnastics, women's cross country, men's golf and men's cross country. The men's ice hockey team just missed perfection, tallying a 997, while the women's ice hockey team scored a 993.

All Ohio State teams finished well above the penalty level, with the men's wrestling team recording the lowest score among OSU programs with a 948.

While APR scores are a minor recruiting point and represent bragging rights to athletic directors, they really only matter when a coach is struggling, in which case, they may be used as justification for a change, or worse, if a program is hit with penalties.

And as the academic scandal at North Carolina illustrates all too well, passing APR scores do not necessarily reflect the situation on the ground.


Comments Show All Comments

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Nebraska was slightly surprising but you could pretty much guess the B1G APR rankings. I did really like the last couple years being able to give my scUM buddies some flack for us having a better APR. But we're in the meaty part of the bell curve. 

Toledo in the top 25!?

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Toledo has made great strides over the years to improve the football team's APR. Before Beckman and Campbell came aboard as head coaches, the program was in the crapper on and off the field. The Rockets lost some schollies due to laziness from their head coach. By the way, one of the reasons why Toledo has improved its APR is due to the adoption of some of Jim Tressel's ways of monitoring their players in the classroom. Beckman was a former assistant at OSU under Tressel, if you remember.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Are you trying to tell me Amstutz was lazy!?  

You wouldn't think so by looking at him. 

BHT's picture

The buckeye football team needs to step it up. TSUN is above us! In basketball too! (I know that they are one of the good school (or so they say)) but the buckeyes need to step it up. Good for the basketball team going up 5 but the football team needs to get it together. A change of -10 is not good enough. Well, at least we are near the top 25 in the country in football.

-1 HS
Whoa Nellie's picture

Won't it be interesting to see what happens with PSU under their former SEC coach?  Granted, Vandy is in the top 25 in grades.

“Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”

KSparkle's picture

The APR really isn't a very good measure of grades. It doesn't matter whether you have 4.0 GPA athletes or 2.3 GPA athletes. As long as the Athlete stays eligible (2.0 and above I assume) and graduates they contribute to the APR score total. 

Ball-Z-Buck's picture

Its good to stay above the Mendoza line! Does anybody care otherwise?

BGBOY's picture

Surprised to see Purdue so low since they are supposed to be an engineering school. Also, only one service academy in the top 20 in football.

You can tune a piano but you can't tuna fish.

daveyt11's picture

Actually there are 2, Air Force is 18. Agree with you, I would expect all 3 to be in the top 10.

BGBOY's picture

Yep. You're right. I didn't see Army.

You can tune a piano but you can't tuna fish.

slippy's picture

I still don't understand how these work.  Didn't Indiana have 2 guys leave early last year?  How is their basketball score perfect?

kholmes's picture

If a players leaves early for the draft and is in good academic standing, then there is an exception in place where they dont get affected in the retention category in the APR. That is how Indiana still got 1000 APR for the 2012/2013 academic year. 

+3 HS
BuckNKY's picture

I am curious - a part of the APR is retention.  What effect does the one-and-done in basketball have on APR?  Where did Kentucky hoops place in the SEC?  

Not a knock on KY or the one-and-done recruiting strategy - can save that for a different forum.  Just wondering if there is extra APR pressure on those teams than the ones that consistently get two, three or four year players.

+1 HS
THEOSUfan's picture

I was surprised to see Kentucky near the top in hoops APR the last time this list came out.  As pointed out by KHolmes and KSparkle, it's not about GPA or whether you leave early.  If you are enrolled and playing sports, they look at whether you are going to class and earning a grade that keeps you eligible.  Another way of saying it is that the APR measures whether athletes are "on schedule" academically.

There appears to be a deal between Cal and his one and dones.  They use him to get to the NBA, and in return they don't hurt the program by blowing off their 2nd semester.

kholmes's picture

Yeah..the key is your point about the 2nd semester. in order to have a program with one and done's, Kentucky needs to make sure those guys take care of business in 2nd semester also and not just check out entirely after the season.

buckeyestu's picture

The UK hoops team had a perfect score. The G.P.A, was also a 3.11.

buckeyestu's picture

Oh in case anyone is wondering, no I am not a UK fan, my lady is a UK alum and is quite proud of her wildcats UK hoops team, in fact I hear plenty from her about their hoops team. lol. We live near Lexington. She does like the Buckeyes some, she even thinks highly of Jim Tressel, she loved his sweater vests.

M Man's picture

"...the APR turd left by Rich Rodriguez..."

Brian Cook deconstructed that here and here and here.  And more.

Normally, I'd like readers to go to all of my hyperlinks and dig into all of the details so that I don't have to type quite so much.  But APR is so amorphous, and so eye-wateringly dull, I don't recommend it.

Long story short, my 11W friends (and Jason); foisting personal responsibility on Rich Rodriguez for Michigan's APR dip in years 2007-2010 is like blaming Jim Tressel for OSU's loss to Sparty in the B1G championship game.  Lloyd Carr's last year featured an anemic APR of 918.  Rodriguez's first year at Michigan was an improved 940, followed by a transfer-destroying 847.  And steady improvement ever since, mostly with Rodriguez recruits.

I'm as happy as I am unsurprised by Brady Hoke's returning Michigan's APR to a more Michigan-like mean.  But blaming "Rodriguez" for the prior dip is not supported by any good qualitative or quantitative analysis.

Michigan's APR falloff was mostly a function of the statistical quirks of APR; but let's also say this -- the rules were all the same for OSU, and one of the many markers of the almost unbelievably smooth transition between Tressel and Meyer (under what could have been awfully difficult circumstances) is how OSU's APR just kept chugging along with good numbers, unaffected by the storms surrounding Tressel and Gee and Smith.  Props to OSU, from the student-athletes, to the top people in the athletic department, to everybody in between.

+1 HS
Jason Priestas's picture

Thanks. Brian wrote those during his jihad, defend-Rod-vs-the-world phase, so I wasn't sure of how much to read into those reports.

hetuck's picture

1. The move to semesters has been very good for OSU basketball. No APR hit and coaches can start preseason workouts several weeks earlier. 2. I assume Tim Gardner was an APR hit. Sometimes it's better to take a short-term hit than sustain a long-term headache. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

klfeck's picture

Alabama and Miss St in the top 22 makes me wonder if these stats are legit.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University