The Next Tempest: APR Comment Count

Brian March 2nd, 2010 at 12:42 PM

They're back.

apr-books apr-birds

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.


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.

Chart? Chart.


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.)



March 2nd, 2010 at 12:58 PM ^

I understand why the NCAA has this rule, to make sure that schools keep their atheletes on the academic straight and narrow, but its design is just rotten. If Michigan gets penalized by a program designed to enforce academics because they had a lot of kids go to different schools, well, that just makes no goddam sense.


March 2nd, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

If penalties are determined using four year averages, it would be absurd for the media to make a big deal out of this.

However, because APR is relatively unknown by the public, this gives the Freep another opportunity to mislead and bloviate. Expect this to be front page news whenever the report is released.


March 2nd, 2010 at 1:15 PM ^

no matter what happens this year.

1. Imagine we go 7-5 and RR gets the axe. How many players do you think will feel that they were tailor made for his schemes and thus decide to transfer (or just plain liked the guy and don't wanna play for the new coach)? I would assume that it would be a lot.

2. So we would lose a ton of guys and thus go into the "penalty box" and maybe get schollies taken awhile and now we're going to change regimes again and have even MORE attrition.

I think that the APR will have a huge weight on RRs job and if it's anywhere close to 925 I think that he'll get to stay just so that we can tread water unless his team gets absolutely crushed.

Just my epinion.


March 3rd, 2010 at 6:16 PM ^

I was thinking this too.

If Rich gets the ax, our APR gets a lot worse. So whoever we hire has an even bigger hill to climb. Of course selling the job will be that much harder. So the haters out there had better set their sites really low.

And my stomach was already churning because an OSU friend (an oxymoron I know) pinged me to rub in OSU beating us in the swimming championships. You know we're in a nuclear winter when you have to whip out Ice Dancing ... (we're proud of our Ice Dancers, but if that is our lone accomplishment, talking smack gets pretty challenging)

Tim Waymen

March 2nd, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

I'm particularly puzzled by APR not applying to guys who leave early for the NFL. Isn't that a stronger indicator of the program's emphasis on academic achievement? If players finish school with a transcript that would render them academically ineligible to play (is that the case?), then that too I understand. I guess if you lose players to transfer then it kind of makes sense, like they went somewhere else to focus on their education or get more out of the student-athlete experience, but again, inconclusive. And as RagingBean said, it's counterintuitive if the APR targets the dismissal of players for not meeting academic or behavioral standards. Perhaps you can see it as a problem if the program seems to be recruiting guys who are incapable of meeting those standards, in effect setting them up to fail? I don't know

In the book The Blind Side, it describes how a bunch of seniors who had just finished their last game at Ole Miss (the Egg Bowl), just packed up their pickup trucks and left the next day without graduating (or, presumably, enough credits for graduation), and not to go to the NFL either. Is that the kind of thing that the NCAA is trying to address?


March 3rd, 2010 at 1:31 AM ^

I'm sure the APR will be another chapter in Rosey's book titled: HOW TO BRING DOWN A MAJOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAM

Did anyone see his latest article in the Free Press that outlines why the Lions should draft offense over defense? I guess he is trying to bring the Lions down as well. What a dick!