The University of Tennessee announced Academic Progress Rates (APR) for its athletics teams on Tuesday, including three programs that received APR Public Recognition Awards for posting a multi-year APR score in the top 10 percent in their sports nationally: Women's Golf, Rowing, and Women's Tennis. The golf program earned this distinction for the fourth consecutive year, while tennis received the honor for the second consecutive year and rowing for the first time.
In addition, nine Tennessee teams posted a 2011-12 APR of 1000: Men's Golf, Men's Tennis, Women's Golf, Softball, Rowing, Women's Tennis, Women's Indoor Track, Women's Outdoor Track, and Volleyball. As announced on May 23, UT student-athletes posted a cumulative GPA of 3.05, the highest since 2003, the earliest year for which sport-by-sport data is available. A record 115 student-athletes were named to their respective Dean's Lists, and 10 programs recorded a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The Academic Progress Rate, now in its ninth year, measures the eligibility and retention of scholarship student-athletes competing on every Division I athletics team, measuring progress toward degree while also serving as a predictor of graduation success. The most recent APR scores are based on a multi-year rate that averages scores from the most recent four-year period, encompassing the 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 academic years.
As noted in the table, the football program has a current multi-year APR of 924. The minimum APR threshold to avoid penalties increases from 900 to 930 beginning with next year's APR scores, which will encompass the academic years of 2009-10 through 2012-13.
"Supporting student-athlete success in the classroom is a top priority at the University of Tennessee, and we are proud that eight of our teams posted a perfect APR score during the 2011-12 academic year," said Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. "While our current football APR score is well below our expectations, we believe that the team's academic performance during the 2012-13 school year and the improvements made in our structure over the last year have us strongly positioned for the future."
During the past year, several corrective measures have been put in place at the University of Tennessee to improve the overall support structure for all sports programs, with a focus on academically at-risk student-athletes. This process is ongoing, and the academic improvement for the football program over the last two semesters is already considerable.
"I believe that once we identified the APR issues with our football program, we have done everything necessary to address them," said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. "I am proud of the performance in the classroom by our student-athletes over the last two semesters, and I have great confidence that we have put past issues behind us and will only continue to improve."
The academic progress being made by the football program is exemplified by the 2.80 grade-point average (GPA) in the Spring of 2013 under new head football coach Butch Jones, the highest for the program in the spring semester since sport-by-sport data began to be tracked by the institution in 2003.
A total of 46 football student-athletes posted a 3.0 GPA or higher, also the highest since data tracking began sport-by-sport. The recent semester's academic performance by the football team followed a Fall 2012 semester in which football student-athletes posted a 2.49 GPA, a considerable improvement over the 2.08 posted in the Fall of 2011.
"Academics are at the forefront of the priorities within our football team, and we are excited with the results in the classroom from the spring semester," said Jones, who was hired on Dec. 7, 2012. "We are moving forward with a great plan and structure that alleviates past academic concerns, and we are confident of avoiding any APR issues. Everything is in place to provide the best possible environment for achieving academic success for our student-athletes as we continue to move forward."
The Thornton Athletics Student Life Center, created to provide student-athletes with academic support programs and assist with both personal and career development, has undergone significant changes, most notably in leadership. The new leader of the Thornton Center is Dr. Joe Scogin, who assumed the role of senior associate athletics director and assistant provost in April 2013, joining Tennessee from the University of Missouri.
A comprehensive evaluation of the Thornton Center operations in order to provide for greater effectiveness and a stronger impact on the academic success of all student-athletes is ongoing. Additionally, a new comprehensive departmental class attendance policy was created and implemented, effective with the Fall semester of 2012.