SMU Teams Trail in NCAA Academic Rankings

Every year, the NCAA reveals its Academic Progress Ratings, an algorithm that basically shows how each athletic team is doing, grades-wise.

And, from the look of it, SMU isn’t doing too well. Here’s the handy breakdown, and it’s embedded below.

First off, no teams are looking at suspensions, and none are that close. Teams are graded on a scale up to 1,000; the team APR must be 900 or better for postseason play, according to the NCAA. The lowest 2010-2011 SMU team APR was (surprisingly?) the men’s golf team, with a 921. (The team received a score of 922 in 2007-2008, and was docked scholarship money because of it.) That puts them in the 10th-20th percentile nationwide.

In fact, eight separate SMU teams fell in the 10th-20th percentile, including men’s golf, swimming, tennis, and women’s basketball, cross country, swimming, and indoor and outdoor track. The numbers are even more jarring when compared to other private institutions nationwide, the institutions SMU fancies themselves equals with academically.

Just for comparison’s sake, I pulled TCU’s APR numbers. One team — women’s swimming — falls in the 10th-20th percentile, while five teams have reached the 80th percentile or higher. SMU has no teams in the 80th percentile or higher, and only one team — men’s soccer — in the 70th-80th percentile.

The NCAA also takes into account multiple years, to track progress. Using that matrix, the men’s basketball team rate has fallen rather consistently since the 2004-2005 season:

  • 2004-2005: 990
  • 2005-2006: 962
  • 2006-2007: 965
  • 2007-2008: 955
  • 2008-2009: 953
  • 2009-2010: 946
  • 2010-2011: 943

Now, this can be explained away in lots of ways: coaching turnover drives players to transfer, family problems, difficult majors. In the Morning News last week, SMU president R. Gerald Turner had this to say: “We’re trying to underscore whether you’re in the class or in the commons, the academic reason is why you’re there.”

He was talking about the construction of the new student commons, sure, but the quote applies here too. Shouldn’t athletes be held to the same standard?


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4 thoughts on “SMU Teams Trail in NCAA Academic Rankings

  • Pingback:SMU Athletic Teams Not Killing It in the Classroom | FrontBurner

  • June 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I had this passed along to me by a friend of mine, I normally do not pay attention to blogs but this one obviously hits home because of how important SMU Golf is to me, and how important our success in the classroom is. For the record, this APR ranking was under the former coaching staff. Since we have taken over last June( Josh Gregory and Jason Enloe-new Men’s Golf Coaches) our APR score will be 1000 for the 2011-2012 season. In addition, we will have 2 Academic All Americans, and our team GPA was the highest of all SMU men’s sports and 2nd highest of all SMU sports. I am extremely proud of all of our kids efforts in the classroom. Trust me things are changing on and off the course. Thanks again and Go Mustangs…

    Josh Gregory
    Head Men’s Golf Coach

  • June 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Mr. Gregory- Thanks for your note. I look forward to next year’s report.

  • June 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Looks like the golf team has made positive improvements with the new coaches. Hopefully other sports will pick it up in the classroom.


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