academic progress rate
A glimpse into the future: here's a table of schools that would fall under the 925 line if we just look at the last three years of data. These schools could be subject to contemporaneous penalties if they lose a kid because he is ineligible unless they improve this year.
Columns are mostly self explanatory. APR XX = single-year APR. SS XX = squad size for a particular year. 09 APR so far is a combination of the APR scores weighted by the squad sizes, so UAB's 756 counts more than their 931 because the 756 saw 97 players and the 931 just 80. I think I might be slightly off on the weightings here because squad size may not directly correspond with points available, but these should be close.
The last column is the score the school needs to break to get out of the contemporaneous penalties zone. Obviously, the top four teams are not going to climb out in one year. BCS teams have been bolded.
|School||Conf.||APR||APR 08||SS 08||APR 07||SS 07||APR 06||SS 06||09 APR
|Florida International||Sun Belt||904||965||81||891||77||822||90||890||1030|
|San Jose State University||WAC||888||952||78||876||82||853||86||892||1024|
|Washington State University||Pac-10||918||922||84||874||88||921||90||906||983|
|University of Mississippi||SEC||910||891||85||945||76||890||85||907||978|
|University of Idaho||WAC||905||938||77||880||87||911||90||909||974|
|New Mexico State University||WAC||905||900||95||920||87||913||89||911||968|
|University at Buffalo||MAC||908||921||80||933||81||884||86||912||964|
|University of Minnesota||Big Ten||915||887||89||935||88||924||86||915||955|
|University of Colorado||Big 12||929||935||90||893||90||918||94||915||954|
|University of North Texas||Sun Belt||911||914||87||917||87||924||85||918||945|
|University of South Florida||Big East||909||938||85||937||85||879||79||919||943|
|Florida Atlantic University||Sun Belt||913||935||85||918||77||911||85||921||936|
|University of Arkansas||SEC||927||918||91||937||91||910||96||921||936|
|University of Akron||MAC||926||948||90||906||90||912||89||922||934|
|Florida State University||ACC||932||871||91||960||83||938||94||922||934|
Ole Miss is the most relevant team in the danger zone, and it looks doubtful they will be able to avoid a small penalty or two. Florida State's ugly 871 will be an anchor for a few years but if they bounce back with numbers similar to their record to date it won't be a serious problem. And Tim Brewster's gift to whoever replaces him in two years is going to be that 887.
Data ho. Current four-year rates for eligibility and retention plus squad sizes and overall APRs for all of I-A, organized by conference. This was always hard to get out of the PDFs and prevented wide-scale comparisons without enormous amounts of grunt work.
|Conference||APR||Eligibility Rate||Retention Rate||Squad Size|
The ACC is your APR champion by a healthy margin; the rest of the BCS is virtually indistinguishable from another (and the Mountain West) save for the Big 12, which lags. The MAC, WAC, and Sun Belt bring up the rear, with the Sun Belt's appalling eligibility rate standing as yet another reason that conference is a blight on I-A.
Individual conference numbers after the jump.
So I was planning on putting up a post at the usual time and then I fell down the rabbit hole at the NCAA's new APR data-dump site, which happens to be a joint project with Michigan itself. After pounding at their online interface for a while, screaming "why?" the whole time, I just downloaded the whole dataset and set about doing stuff in Open Office's Excel clone.
First, a clear explanation of how the numbers are calculated from the site's Codebook:
A team’s APR cohort for a given year is composed of student-athletes who receive financial aid based on athletic ability; if a team does not offer athletics aid, then the cohort consists of those student-athletes who are listed on the varsity roster on the first day of competition. Each student-athlete in the APR cohort has the ability to earn two points for each regular academic term of full-time enrollment. One point is awarded if the student-athlete is academically eligible to compete in the following regular academic term. The other point is awarded if the student-athlete is retained by the institution (i.e., returns to school as a full-time student) in the next regular academic term. Student-athletes who graduate are given both the eligibility and retention points for the term. Squads can also earn a delayed graduation point if a student-athlete who left the institution without graduating returns to the institution and graduates.
At the start of each academic year, each Division I team's APR is calculated by adding all points earned by student-athletes in the team's cohorts in each of the previous four years, dividing that total by the number of possible points the student-athletes could have earned and multiplying by 1,000. Thus, an APR of 950 means that the student-athletes in the cohort earned 95 percent of the eligibility and retention points that they could have earned.
This answers a few questions I had before: walk-ons don't count, but walk-ons who pick up scholarships do. They even include a handy football example:
Example of APR Calculation for a Men’s Football Team (n=85 at start of year)
Semester 1 (Fall) Points Earned
75 student-athletes eligible and retained to next term (or graduate in that term)
75*(2 of 2) = 150 of 150
3 student-athletes are retained to next term but are academically ineligible
3*(1 of 2) = 3 of 6
5 student-athletes leave the university while academically eligible
5*(1 of 2) = 5 of 10
2 student-athletes leave the university while academically ineligible
2*(0 of 2) = 0 of 4
Semester Total 158 of 170 (929 APR)
There are also separate rates for eligibility and retention provided as part of the data set that only consider the appropriate halves of the equation. For example, the retention rate above is 78/85 or 918.
Also: it is super hard to get serious penalties. The 925 Mendoza line everyone has been throwing around is indeed the cutoff above which a player leaving ineligible does not hurt you, but falling below that line does not immediately bring penalties with it. It only hurts you if 1) you are below 925 and 2) you have a player leave ineligible. The punishment is an inability to use that player's scholarship the next year. You have to get below 900 before the NCAA comes in with a stick looking for trouble. Only three schools (Temple, San Jose State, and UAB) fell below that line.
Nevermind The Panic
A drumroll for Michigan's exact numbers:
|Year||APR||Eligibility Rate||Retention Rate||Squad Size|
A couple oddities are immediately apparent:
- Michigan's 2008 APR is higher than either of their individual breakout scores, which should be mathematically impossible. This also happens in 2006.
- Squad sizes somehow range from 85—the theoretical maximum—to 99. Early departures from mid-year graduates and transfers could bring the numbers up somewhat if the second semester has a bunch of new faces, be they freshmen or walk-ons, but those numbers seem abnormally high.
- Lloyd Carr's last year: guh. Remember that picture where Mike Hart is staring down five Buckeyes? "889" is that in numerical form.
Also, the NCAA official numbers confirm my back-of-envelope doodling: despite the flood of transfers over the last few years, Michigan is nowhere near even the "contemporaneous penalties" cutoff line. It would take a 2009 APR of 863 or worse to get into trouble. This is actually four points more buffer than this site's previous estimate.
863 is spectacularly low. Only four teams have managed that over the past three years: SJSU, UAB, Temple, and Florida State(!). Those are three mid-major schools who specialize in the marginally eligible and a school that endured a massive institutional cheating scandal. Michigan is not in either situation. We can officially stop worrying about this. Not that you would have been worrying about it without my prompting.
There is no official word about it yet, but both premium sites have started with the grumbles about the upcoming APR report. As demanded by math, Michigan won't fare well. This here site has been fretting about the APR numbers since at least May of last year when the 2008 numbers came out:
I am a bit concerned Michigan's football numbers will dip over the next few years. The four-year rolling numbers:
That's a steady decline as the Carr years waned and attrition increased. The APR issues two points per student per year, one for being academically eligible and one for not leaving, and Michigan's suffered a lot of premature departures.
Note that I didn't have that quite right. The APR issues two points per term:
What is the APR?
The Academic Progress Rate is an NCAA measure to track the academic achievement of Division I teams during each academic term. Each student-athlete earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s APR score. Teams that fall below the minimum APR score of 925 face possible sanctions ranging from scholarship reductions to more severe penalties.
Also, early pro departures who leave in good standing don't hurt you. If they leave ineligible, that's 0-for-2.
In late July, I tried to put some hard numbers on the departures and came up with improbably positive results: even after somewhere between twelve and fifteen players left the team in 2009 I came up with a worst-case number of 941, which is considerably above the NCAA minimum of 925. After some consideration, I think my error was in overestimating the number of available points. Michigan's latest APR report shows an N of 241. If Michigan was using every last scholarship every semester—or, rather, if the NCAA was counting every last scholarship—that N would be 260. If you assume that only 93% of the points are available in an average year, the 941 estimate drops to 937. Since Michigan has spent the last two years really short that is a conservative estimate.
Since then Michigan has lost Justin Feagin, Marell Evans, Vince Helmuth, Boubacar Cissoko, and Brandon Smith, but it's unclear where those guys will count. Smith and Cissoko will clearly apply to 2010 numbers, but Feagin, Evans, and Helmuth all left over the summer and it's not clear which year their departures will be charged to. Feagin played at Texas Southern this year and therefore must have left eligible. Evans was a member of Hampton's latest recruiting class*, which makes me think he stayed at Michigan for at least a semester. If he'd transferred immediately he would have played, like Feagin did. (He's still in the directory, but I'm still in the directory. This is not conclusive.) Vince Helmuth transferred to Miami (Not That Miami). Since that's a D-I school he has to sit out a year eligible or not, but IIRC Helmuth was a good student in high school and Miami is not a common destination for the academically challenged.
Departures after the July 22 post should cost Michigan two more APR points if they count against '09 at all. That brings them down to 930 using the same system my rough, still-optimistic math above suggests. My guess is Michigan's APR this year is below 925.
ARRRRGH GIVE ME A FRICKIN' SIREN?
But will they fall under the mark when all four years are averaged? Probably not. Since the first APR reports on the NCAA's site cover shorter periods of time we can figure out Michigan's yearly APR and find the ones that will figure in this year's calculation.
The last three scores are 970, 930, and 933. The premium grumbles give me pause—does anyone care enough to mention it if Michigan's four-year APR drops to 935?—but Michigan would have to drop an 867 this year to be subject to penalties. That 970 is a big buffer.
It's a buffer that will go away next year, though, and Michigan will have to resume its usual practice of not flailing around with 67 scholarship kids because of a zillion transfers if it's going to stay out of the penalty box. Of course, if Michigan doesn't do that the APR is just going to be another reason Michigan's looking for a new coach.
*(So is Nu'Keese Richardson, FWIW.)
Uh… is there any?
I've been fretting about Michigan's future APR scores for a while now without actually looking at the numbers."Wah wah wah," I wah, "APR mumble bits mumble." There's a possibility I'm mildly concerning all of you for no reason, so there's no time like the present to put some numbers behind the concerns.
Varsity Blue has helpfully listed the full dossier of transfers and departures since 2008, when the APR scores leave off. (Actually, the Spartan Tailgate "Rodriguezed" thread is more complete. In retrospect, this is obvious. Warning: useful content goes to zero after post #1.) With this information we can divide and multiply our way to knowledge, like they did in the olden days.
I'm still a little unclear on how this thing is calculated. The NCAA's explanation:
The APR is calculated by allocating points for eligibility and retention -- the two factors that research identifies as the best indicators of graduation. Each player on a given roster earns a maximum of two points per term, one for being academically eligible and one for staying with the institution. A team's APR is the total points of a team's roster at a given time divided by the total points possible.
This seems insufficiently detailed. Do walk-ons put on scholarship count? Do walk-ons count in general? What happens when a player like Mallett transfers halfway through the year? What about early NFL draft departures? I've searched the NCAA's web site and haven't found explanations. (I do have my second attempt at an email in; the first went unanswered.)
Let's make some common sense assumptions in the meantime:
- Walk-ons count if they're on scholarship. It would be hard for the NCAA to distinguish between a recruited player and a walk-on who earned his way onto the team.
- They do not count if they are not on scholarship. Allowing any walk-on to count would allow teams to pack their rosters with 5'7" chemical engineers.
- A transferred player only hits you once.
- There are two semesters with 170 points available in each, for a yearly total of 340.
A sanity check on that last point: the NCAA has stated a 925 APR corresponds to about a 50- or 60-percent graduation rate and .925 to the eighth power is about 53%. It goes by terms.
Should You Be Mildly Concerned?
Under those assumptions, Michigan's yearly APR maximums for Rodriguez years one and two:
Three transfers (VB missed Quintin Patilla), two medical scholarships—which don't count against M since both players remained in school— and one Marques Slocum 0-for-2 leave Michigan down a minimum of five points. Since the decisions of Ciulla, Mitchell, DeBenedictis, and Gallimore—AKA the entire 2004 offensive line recruiting class—to leave early were not accompanied by transfers I don't think they'd count against Michigan unless any of those guys left school without a degree.
Then there are the departures of Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham for the NFL. I'm not sure what the NCAA does in the case of early entries. A review of the Greg Oden stuff at Ohio State is inconclusive:
Oden was classified an "0 for 2" in APR jargon, meaning he left school without completing the term and was ineligible for the following season when he left. An "0 for 2," combined with a program's overall APR score of less than 925 (about a 60 percent graduation rate), triggers such a penalty. …
The early departures of Mike Conley Jr. and Daequan Cook are not believed to have negatively affected the score because they completed spring quarter in 2007 before leaving.
Wait, what? Oden gets 0 for 2 for leaving for the NBA but the other two guys don't affect the score even a little? That's odd. I'd guess at least one of the receivers left ineligible; if both did that would cost Michigan another four points.
In the worst case, 331/340 = 973 APR. Even the improbable double-worst case where every player who left Michigan did so with a 0.0 GPA, the attrition only gets Michigan down to 958.
Those numbers immediately makes me think this calculation is goofy even if you factor in some unpublicized dings from players who exhaust their eligibility but don't graduate. But the sanity check is the sanity check. If they were grading this out of 170 points per year the graduation rate they are shooting for would be 75%.
Nine transfers—Hill, Clemons, Babb, Chambers, Horn, McGuffie, Threet, Wermers, and O'Neill—have shoved off. Wermers left ineligible, so Michigan is down at least ten points. Others could have left ineligible, too; we wouldn't know because they'd have to sit out as they got their grades up due to the transfer anyway. I'm willing to bet many dollars that Carson Butler left ineligible, which would make the number 12.
Andre Criswell left the team but remains at Michigan as a grad assistant, so he got a degree and won't count against them. Jason Kates left the team but may not have left school, in which case he wouldn't count. Taylor Hill is also an interesting case since he left after about two weeks and immediately transferred to Kent State. If he got out by the drop/add deadline there's a possibility he doesn't count either.
And then there's the strange case of Marcus Witherspoon, who apparently enrolled enough to invoke transfer rules when he moved to Rutgers, but managed to do so without being eligible, but managed to enroll and redshirt at Rutgers despite supposedly not being eligible, which I guess he wouldn't have to be except then he'd… well. I don't know.
There's a lot of gray area here. The bare minimum is 12 , which would be a 964 APR. The maximum reasonable loss—not everyone left ineligible—would be around 20, which would be a 941 APR.
These numbers appear too optimistic. Michigan's rate of attrition under Carr seemed considerably lower than it does in the first couple years of the Rodriguez era, and those teams checked in with APRs near the worst-case scenario of Michigan's 2009 Transfer Spectacular. Either I'm calculating these wrong or there's a big unknown minus from players who run out of eligibility but leave without a degree. I lean towards the latter pending someone from the NCAA actually responding to an email.
Well, Should You?
If we can squint at the grim transfer parade of last year, make the maximum reasonable negative assumption, and then tack on another six points for non-graduating seniors—which would be over 50% of the class, well outside the Michigan norm—and still get a 923 APR, Michigan is going to be fine.
Even in this unlikely worst-case scenario, that one-year number is barely below the line and should be surrounded by years much higher than that. Rodriguez's attrition should drop considerably as the guys who didn't sign up for this Barwis nut leave the program via means natural and un-.
While Michigan's APR will continue to dip over the next couple years, it probably won't even approach the Mendoza line, let alone dip below it.
Former Michigan offensive lineman Kurt Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer to Ball State last week, sources told ESPN.com.
… But according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Wermers was already out.
His academic struggles would have prevented him from suiting up with the Wolverines. Wermers wasn't even enrolled in summer school at the time of his departure.
Wermers' comments now appear even more self-serving. She didn't break up with me, I broke up with her. And she was a whore anyway. Meet my new girlfriend, who looks like a horse. I mean, really: "I thought I'd get out when I could." Super.
(No offense, Ball State fans, it's just that you're in the MAC and all that. You're a very pretty horse.)
Ugh APR. My concern about Michigan's APR tickling the edges of the 925 cutoff is now increased: you get two points per player per semester, one for keeping them at school and another for keeping them eligible. Michigan got 1/2 for Threet in his final semester; they get 0/2 for Wermers, which makes his departure the equivalent of two guys.
Um, why would Wermers be in summer school? Weird little addendum from Rittenberg there at the end. Wermers left the team months ago and Rodriguez officially announced it in May. Obviously he wasn't enrolled in summer school.
Who is Deep Throat here? I'm sure Wermers' academic status is common knowledge in a certain circle of folks close to the program, any one of whom could be a source credible enough for Rittenberg to go with. I hope none of the coaches were peeved enough to be one of them.