An NCAA national report says the UTC Athletics Department made significant improvements in its NCAA Academic Progress Rate for the 2006-07 academic year.

The Chattanooga sports of wrestling and football produced single-year APR score improvements of 145 and 112 points respectively, both meeting NCAA benchmarks.

The APR was developed to better assess a team’s academic performance as opposed to the graduation rate calculation.  The system awards two points each term to student-athletes who meet academic-eligibility standards and who remain with the institution.  A team’s APR is the total points earned by the team at a given time divided by the total points possible.

“We have worked extremely hard with our coaching staffs and with our administrators to give them a better understanding of how this formula is calculated and how it can impact our programs,” Athletics Director Rick Hart said.  “We have initiated educational tools for our coaches and our student-athletes to assist in their academic successes and retention and are certainly proud of the advancement we have made from last year to this year.

“While we are pleased that our efforts have resulted in short-term success, this cannot be a one-time thing.  We must continue to be diligent in this area to ensure that our upward progress continues for all sports.”

The Athletics Department has taken several steps to improve its academic progress.  Those include: the development of a formal APR improvement plan with input from University faculty and staff;  participation in NCAA and Southern Conference training and educational seminars; meeting biannually with all student-athletes and providing guest speakers and seminars in education and career guidance; assigning a department representative to the Campus Retention Committee;  providing academic coaches to teams;  performing a closer monitoring system for current and incoming student-athlete academic progress and increasing its financial commitment to summer school and post-eligibility aid.

The UTC student-athlete graduation rate continues to be higher than that of the overall UTC student body.  May commencement included 27 student-athletes–seven former football players and five former wrestlers.

The APR calculates a multi-year figure over a four-year academic period with 925 points out of a possible 1,000 points being the benchmark.  In Tuesday’s public report, wrestling’s multi-year score rose to 883 and football’s rose to 855.

Retention also figures into the APR formula, and both these sports have been penalized over the last few years for student-athletes leaving the programs for various reasons.  In the case of the wrestling team, a coaching change after the 2005-06 season contributed greatly to a low score the following year.  The wrestling team earned a perfect APR score of 1,000 for fall 2007.

While both football and wrestling remain in the penalty phase, each program was given a slight reprieve from the NCAA due to the significant improvements each made over the course of the year.

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