Three years ago the NCAA announced that the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team would not be eligible for the 2009 FCS playoffs due to its poor Academic Progress Rate (APR) performance. There were also a number of other Mocs teams under scholarship and practice time restrictions due to lagging scores.
At that time, Director of Athletics Rick Hart and his staff put together an aggressive plan to improve all of the APR scores across the board at UTC. Members of the athletics department examined every aspect of the program, from recruiting to student-athlete support, and took a best-practices approach to improving its APR performance.
Three years of planning, implementation and hard work by the staff, coaches and student-athletes was rewarded today when the NCAA announced that 11 of the Mocs' 17 programs had perfect single-year APR scores for the 2010-11 academic year. Additionally, all 17 of the programs were above the 900 threshold required by the NCAA and no program faced any APR-related penalties.
"We knew we had the infrastructure, and most importantly the coaches and student-athletes, in place to quickly get back to where we needed to be," said Hart. "We also knew that once we got there, we would have a great story to tell."
That story began to come to light last week when the Mocs men's golf team because the first squad at Chattanooga to post a perfect four-year APR score of 1000. Men's and women's cross country, men's indoor and outdoor track & field, women's basketball, women's golf, softball, soccer, women's tennis and volleyball, along with the men's golf team, are the 11 programs that posted a 1000 for the 2010-11 year.
According to the NCAA, the APR provides a real-time "snapshot" of a team's academic success each semester by assessing the current academic progress of every student-athlete. The APR includes eligibility and retention as factors in the calculation and provides a much clearer picture of the current academic culture in each sport.
The women's tennis team had the biggest jump in its four-year average score, going from a 936 to a 974. The soccer team also had a huge improvement, increasing its four-year score 26 points to a 915. Softball also improved 25 points to a 977. The volleyball team narrowly missed a perfect 1000 over the last four years, posting a 995 to trail only the men's golf team.
The NCAA is increasing its four-year minimum requirements from a 900 to a 930 next year, and 15 of UTC's 17 programs already meet that mark. With that in mind, UTC has set a minimum score of 950 as its internal goal for all sports.
"I am very proud of the academic success of our student-athletes across the board," added Hart. "We are coming off another record-breaking semester grade-point-average from the spring and this is another big accomplishment to celebrate. With the NCAA increasing its minimum requirements, we will still have some work to do. However, we are heading in the right direction and will get there soon."