published Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

UTC now strong in NCAA APR scores

APR IMPROVEMENT

UTC had 16 of 17 sports post four-year averages above 930:

Sport — 2011-12 Avg.

Football — 936

Men's basketball — 927

Men's golf — 1,000

Men's tennis — 949

Men's cross country — 1,000

Men's indoor track — 968

Men's outdoor track — 968

Wrestling — 946

Women's basketball — 982

Women's golf — 980

Softball — 966

Women's soccer — 947

Women's cross country — 986

Women's indoor track — 988

Women's outdoor track — 988

Volleyball — 985

With perfect Academic Progress Rate four-year averages of 1,000, the men's golf and cross country teams led the way in a very good 2011-12 academic year for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics.

The NCAA released the latest APR scores Tuesday -- they cover single-year scores for 2011-12 and the four-year average from 2008-09 to 2011-12 -- and UTC had nine teams with perfect single-year scores. In addition, 12 of the school's 17 varsity sports had multiyear averages of 966 or higher, the Mocs' best overall performance yet.

New athletic director David Blackburn said UTC's coaches clearly have made high APR scores a priority.

"Coaches are bringing it up to me, ahead of me bringing it up to them," Blackburn said. "That means they are in tune with it, and any time you have coaches paying attention to it, you typically have good results."

This is the third straight year that UTC has been APR penalty free. The football program was ineligible for the 2009 postseason but has rebounded with single-year scores of 942 or higher the past three years, and its four-year average is 936.

That's well above the current NCAA benchmark of 900 and also above the new mark of 930, which goes into place next year. Mocs football will be dropping a score of 872 after this year, so its average should get a significant bump next year.

According to an NCAA release, 18 Division I teams will be ineligible for postseason competition because of poor APR performance. Nearly all of them are either limited-resource schools or historically black colleges, such as Alabama State, Mississippi Valley State and Grambling State.

The only UTC squad below the 930 mark is men's basketball, which has a four-year average of 927. Because it was below 930, an academic recovery plan had to be implemented, senior associate athletic director Laura Herron said.

UTC has established an internal benchmark of 950 and Herron said every team but men's basketball should be above the mark next year. The women's soccer team, which posted an 825 in 2008-09 and incurred scholarship and practice time losses, had its second perfect score in a row.

"We're not even looking at those [NCAA] bottom-cut scores anymore," Herron said. "We're looking at reaching our internal goals. It's a good picture now."

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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