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UConn men report second consecutive perfect academic progress rate

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STORRS, Connecticut — Connecticut's national champion men's basketball team has submitted its second consecutive perfect academic progress rate score to the NCAA since being forced to sit out the 2013 postseason under academic sanctions.

The score of 1,000, which covers the 2013-14 school year, won't be official until the NCAA comes out with its national academic progress report in the spring. It was submitted by the school to the NCAA in October and obtained this week by The Associated Press under a state open records request.

The program also had a perfect 1,000 for the 2012-13 academic year.

Athletic Director Warde Manuel said the score is a reflection on the type of student-athlete third-year coach Kevin Ollie has recruited into the program, and a commitment by the school to make academics a top priority of its student-athletes.

"We focus on making them understand that it is about winning in the classroom and on the court or field of play," Manuel said. "We want them to do both and we believe they can do both."

The rate doesn't track grades, but measures whether students are in good academic standing. Athletes receive points each semester for remaining academically eligible and remaining in school or graduating.

Schools aren't necessarily hurt when a player leaves school before graduation, as long as the player turns professional, but they can take a hit if the player is not academically eligible when they leave.

UConn was barred from both the 2013 Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament based on the APR scores from the 2007-08 through 2010-11 academic years.

Over the past several years, UConn has put in changes in an effort to boost the scores. Those include mandated sanctions for any player who misses three or more classes during the academic year and daily checks of course work for student-athletes who have a grade-point average of 2.3 or lower.

Players also are required to attend at least nine hours of summer school each year and adhere to a "graduation plan" created to ensure each player is on a path to graduate, even if they leave school early for the NBA or other opportunities.

Guard Omar Calhoun said the team also has weekly meetings with its academic adviser and each player has a detailed schedule to know when they should be working on academics and when they can concentrate on basketball.

"Coach Ollie makes sure we're on top of our books," he said. "If we're not, then we don't play. So guys take that pretty seriously. We know what it was like to miss the tournament and we don't want to do that to the next guys coming in."

Teams must have a 930 four-year average APR or a 940 average over the most recent two years to participate in the 2015 NCAA tournament. In 2015-16 and beyond, teams must earn a four-year APR of 930 to compete in any NCAA championship.

The 2013-14 score will give the UConn men a four-year average of 983, well above those qualifying marks.

The national champion women's basketball team, which had a perfect score for the 2012-13 school year, reported a 975 APR for 2013-14, giving it a four-year average of 982.

The school's football team reported a 970 APR, giving it a four-year average of 960. That team's APR has climbed steadily from a 950 in 2010-11, earning scores of 955 and 964 over the two subsequent years.

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