Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Vandy in elite company

When the NCAA released its most recent Academic Progress Rates yesterday, many schools were nervous, hoping that their teams finished above the 925 threshold to avoid possible penalties. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, had nothing to worry about.

The Commodores' men's basketball team finished an impressive fourth among BCS Conference schools with an APR Score of 985, behind only UNC, Villanova and Illinois (see chart below). Every Division I sports team calculates its APR each academic year, based on the eligibility, retention and graduation of each scholarship student-athlete.

Note that Tennessee and South Carolina, among others, lost one scholarship each for poor academic performance.

The reason Vanderbilt scores so well is twofold. Of course, Vanderbilt's admissions standards for athletes are different than, say, Tennessee's, but I don't think that's the main reason. I think that the high grade is more of a reflection on the commitment that the university as a whole, and the respective teams in particular, make to their student-athletes both on the court and in the classroom.

From the coaching staffs to the academic advisers, there are resources available to ensure that Vanderbilt's student-athletes are successful. They want their players to graduate and do everything they can to help them do so.

Here's another chart that proves what we already suspected: the Southeastern Conference isn't very committed to athletes. It is fifth among the BCS Conferences in Average APR Score, ahead of only the Big 12. The SEC also has seven teams under the 925 mark.

Thanks to Rush the Court for the data.

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