Providence’s Academic Progress Rate Continues Upward Trend

The NCAA released the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) data on Wednesday and, once again, the Providence men’s basketball team saw their multi-year rate trending up. Since the arrival of Ed Cooley in the spring of 2011 the multi-year APR has increased after a dip following Cooley’s first season due largely to transfers. From a nadir of 915 following the 2011-12 season, Providence’s APR has skyrocketed to a high of 984 for the 2015-16 season, the latest year data is available. That marks the best multi-year APR in school history.

The NCAA says that “the APR holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.” Basically, the APR is a used to determine how good or bad a school is at getting their student-athletes to earn diplomas. The APR, which only counts those players who are receiving athletic scholarship money, has become a key metric tracked and tended to because a poor score has real nasty consequences, including scholarship loss and postseason ban. If a school’s rolling four-year APR falls below 930 — the equivalent to having a 50% graduation rate — they are ineligible for postseason play. It’s also nice for players to get diplomas, whether that’s from Providence or elsewhere.

Providence’s multi-year APR has been trending up since the completion of Cooley’s first season as head coach.

The APR has been around since 2004. It is calculated by taking into account a player’s academic eligibility and retention at that school. Each scholarship player is allotted one point for remaining eligible and one point for staying at the school. The total number of points earned by a team — which is 2 times the number of total scholarship players on the roster that season — is then divided by the total number of points that were possible for that year with the result being multiplied by 1,000. There are two exceptions that can help mitigate players leaving school. The first is an adjustment for players in good academic standing leaving school to pursue professional opportunities. The second is for players who transfer but have a GPA over 2.6 when they leave. The NCAA uses 2.6 as the threshold because their data has shown that “student-athletes who transfer with at least a 2.6 grade-point average have the same likelihood of academic success as a student-athlete who remains at his or her original institution.”

The way the math works is the player only has 1 point available for that semester after the retention point is forgiven. That means the points possible number gets decreased so the ultimate bottomline APR number isn’t negatively impacted. For example, the transfers of Ricky Council and Ryan Fazekas could still means Providence could earn a perfect score for 2016-17 of 1,000 as long as both leave school with GPA’s of 2.6 or better, respectively. The math for the 2016-17 season would work as follows:

Possible 2016-17 APR Calculation

PlayerPoints PossiblePoints Earned
Bullock, Rodney44
Cartwright, Kyron44
Council, Ricky33
Diallo, Alpha44
Edwards, Drew44
Fazekas, Ryan33
Holt, Emmitt44
Jackson, Isaiah44
Lindsey, Jalen44
Planek, Tom44
White, Maliek44
Young, Kalif44
Total4646

Basically, Council and Fazekas would both earn 2 of 2 points for the first semester by being eligible and still enrolled at Providence. They would then earn 1 of 2 points for the second semester because they were eligible but not staying at Providence. Instead of losing that 1 point each for the second semester that retention point is eliminated if each player’s GPA is 2.6 or higher.

Tim Welsh vs Keno Davis vs Ed Cooley APR

Season

Tim Welsh

Keno Davis

Ed Cooley

Average APR

939

906

969

2004-05

936

-

-

2005-06

940

-

-

2006-07

938

-

-

2007-08

942

-

-

2008-09

-

896

-

2009-10

-

904

-

2010-11

-

917

-

2011-12

-

-

929

2012-13

-

-

1000

2013-14

-

-

960

2014-15

-

-

1000

2015-16

-

-

957

The main story here is that Cooley has done as good of a job in the classroom for his players as he’s done on the court. The Friars program was on the brink of falling below the minimums under Keno Davis. Cooley took the reigns and made his player’s academics and the program’s APR a priority. Cooley is the only coach at Providence to score an individual season perfect score of 1,000. He’s done it twice in the five years of available data and it’s possible he could have another perfect score for 2016-17, as I outlined above. The fact that he managed to do that while also winning is another notch on his belt as the CEO of the Providence basketball program.

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