NCAA Releases APR Scores, Men's Lacrosse Comes Away Unscathed

USA TODAY Sports

No team earned a penalty in the latest cycle.

The NCAA released its latest iteration of the APR -- "Academic Progress Report," not "All Pants: Revolting" -- and there's good news: No Division I men's lacrosse team is taking a penalty for failing to progress academically (which, as academic progress goes, is a good thing). The even better news? Six schools -- Bucknell, Colgate, Dartmouth, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Villanova -- earned perfect APR scores. Those are the schools you want to beat up for their lunch money after you give them wedgies for being total nerds.

Men's lacrosse did well in the overall, finishing 10th overall in four-year APR average (974). When also considering the length of the college lacrosse season and when it falls on the calendar (not to mention the fall ball period that takes players out of the classroom), men's lacrosse did a hell of a job getting its constituents toward degree. Importantly, men's lacrosse is trending upwards in its APR scores, having an average score of 973 in the 2007-2008 cohort and finishing the 2011-2012 cohort with a 980 score. That increase ranks second only to men's hockey in terms of ground gained. More importantly, however, is that eligibility and retention in men's lacrosse has increased at almost the same rate as the sport's APR scores (although, the retention rate in men's lacrosse lags behind a handful of other men's sports despite the gains it has made).

There are some other notable aspects to the various reports:

  • For the 2011-2012 cohort, Division I men's lacrosse only saw 0.5 percent of its constituency made up of two-year college transfers; 3.2 percent of its transfers went from four-year schools to other four-year schools. There just weren't a lot of players coming out of the junior college ranks to play Division I ball. It'll be interesting how that trend looks in the future (and if the four-year market changes).
  • Based on their scores from this year, there are a handful of schools that are in potentially difficult situations entering the next APR cycle. The NCAA is increasing the marks necessary to avoid penalty starting with the 2014-2015 championship cycle: Teams need to achieve a 930 over a multi-year period or a 940 two-year score. VMI, Detroit, Siena, Mercer, and Jacksonville are potentially in the toughest spots entering that period, as their three-year cycles have yielded average APR scores just above or below the multi-year breaking point and their potential two-year scores are perilously close to the 940 mark:
    • VMI needs to have at least have a 922 score in the 2012-2013 cohort to avoid penalty (the Keydets have never scored below a 930).
    • Siena needs to score at least a 924 next year (like VMI, the Saints have never scored below a 930) to avoid a penalty.
    • Detroit, Mercer, and Jacksonville are in weird positions, and their ability to avoid penalties turns on the imposition of bylaw provisions, the applicability of waivers, and what kind of scores all three schools can put together for the 2012-2013 cohort. Without getting into the gory details here, all three have work to do (Detroit has notably improved since taking a scholarship penalty following the publishing of the 2009-2010 cohort) and they are, of all the schools in Division I, the three to keep an eye on not just next season but down the line based on the scores they've put together since entering Division I (all three, however, have consistently improved over the years but are still in the danger zone). Jacksonville, importantly, is in some trouble: The Dolphins need to score a 974 next period to meet the multi-year mark or a 953 to hit the two-year requirement. Jacksonville earned its highest score ever this year with a 927, and a waiver may be in the Dolphins' future.
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