One year ago, the release of the NCAA's academic progress rate findings sent WSU fans into a tailspin. We got our first public look into just how out of hand things had gotten in the Bill Doba era, and it wasn't pretty -- a score below the NCAA's 925-point threshhold combined with players leaving the program while not on track to graduate resulted in the loss of eight scholarships.
Jim Sterk and Paul Wulff both stated publicly that they didn't think it would be a problem again, and they were right: Today, the NCAA released its most recent APR findings, and the Cougs have made substantial enough progress that the NCAA has decided not to penalize the program further.
While the Cougs' four-year rolling score in football is just 918 -- still seven points below the NCAA's standard of 925 -- the NCAA accepted WSU's appeal of penalties thanks to the positive gains the program has made since Wulff arrived on campus. Last year, the score was 874, so it's clear Wulff is doing some positive things off the field, even though the jury's still out with regards to the on-field performance.
Hoops continued its upward trend, now up to 946, which is a surprise to no one who has seen all the guys we've put on the all-academic team the past couple of years. Last year, hoops posted one of the school's lower scores at 903, but that was largely due to the mess that Paul Graham left behind. His numbers have now (finally) come off the books.
One basketball program of note that did receive penalties? Portland State. While one of those years doesn't belong to Bone, he can't pawn off the results on someone else the way the Bennetts did -- Portland State's APR actually declined in Bone's first three years, from 897 to 894 to an abysmal 867 this year. I sure hope this is a case of numbers not telling the whole story of what was going on there, because that is downright scary. Hopefully someone asks Bone about it.
No other WSU program fell below the 925 threshhold of the APR, which measures both retention and progress toward graduation. The highest number in the department? Women's cross country, checking in at 995 -- good enough to be among the top 20 percent of cross country programs and top 10 percent of all sports programs.
There still were plenty of schools who received penalties, though. Among BCS conference schools, Minnesota and Ole Miss each received penalites in football, while Auburn, Indiana, Purdue, Colorado, South Carolina and Ohio State each received penalties in men's basketball.
One final thought. This is a drum I banged on my blog last year, and I'll say it again: BCS schools make up roughly 20 percent of Division I basketball schools, yet they only account for 14 percent of schools receiving penalties; in football, they make up 54 percent of FBS schools, yet account for only 18 percent of penalties.
Is it because BCS schools have a premium on academically committed athletes? Or could it be because they generally have far more resources at their disposal, such as small armies of tutors and counselors, to “ensure” students stay on track for graduation?
I'll go ahead and go with the latter.