No cause for alarm

You might have heard about the NCAA's new Academic Progress Rate (APR) initiative, which, in a nutshell, is designed to punish teams that do not do a good job on the student side of the student athlete equation.

We won't pretend to understand it well enough to explain it in detail. Suffice to say, no Patriot League hoops teams appear in danger of losing any scholarships under the program.

The magic number for losing scholarships is 925. Score below that and you could be in danger. Here's an explanation of the 925 number from an Academic Progress Rate Q&A in the Washington Post:
Q: How is the APR computed, and what's the significance of 925?

A: Each scholarship athlete on a roster can score two points -- one for maintaining a grade-point average that keeps him or her on track to graduate; one for returning to school the next semester. The APR is the total points scored by the team, divided by the total points possible, and multiplied by 1,000.

Example: A soccer team has 10 scholarship athletes. One signs a contract with D.C. United and leaves school early, but in good academic standing; he scores one point. Another player gets a D-average and quits school; he scores zero points. Everyone else is in good academic standing and stays in school; they score 16 points. The team's APR is 17 divided by 20 (0.850), multiplied by 1,000 (850). Because 850 is below the 925 cutoff, the team won't be allowed to re-award the scholarship of the player who dropped out in poor academic standing for one year.

An APR of 1,000 is perfect. An APR of 925 equates to about a 50-percent graduation rate and is considered minimally acceptable. Anything below 925 subjects a team to possible scholarship reductions.
You can view the APR numbers for all NCAA schools. Here's a brief summary of the results for the Patriot League, listing the men's basketball number and any teams that are below 925:

American: 963 (men's soccer 897, wrestling 900, women's swimming 917)
Army: 957 (none below 925)
Bucknell: 929 (none below)
Colgate: 923
Holy Cross: 1000
Lafayette: 952
Lehigh: 904 (men's soccer 900)
Navy: 984 (none below)

Before anyone gets alarmed, or starts chanting taunts based on those below 925 numbers, you should realize that in every instance, league teams with scores below 925 all had a little plus sign next to their numbers. According to the NCAA, that means they "have an estimated APR upper confidence boundary of 925 or above, even though the team's actual APR is below 925. It is anticipated that some smaller squads that may be identified as underperforming in this year's reports will not be subject to penalty once the confidence boundary is applied."

In other words, nobody appears to be in trouble.

One big thing to understand is that being below 925 does not in itself cost scholarships. Players who leave school in good academic standing cost points under the formula, but as long as none leave in poor academic standing, their scholarship can still be replaced. But if you are below 925 and a student leaves the team in poor academic standing, that scholarship cannot be awarded for one year.

It is unlikely this will impact the league in terms of losing scholarships, given the conference's traditional ranking at or near the top of NCAA graduation rates.

What could become interesting though, would be any possible positive impact caused by the trickle down of good players due to high major schools losing scholarships.

While that could be possible, it is unlikely to happen at a high enough level to really make a difference. As the Post's Q&A points out, this whole thing is filled with loopholes.

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