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.)