We all have our qualms with the academic standards the NCAA uses to judge its teams, but so far the APR, or Academic Progress Rate, is the best they could come up with. Unfortunately, it's never worked out very good for Maryland - because, says Gary Williams, one bad year (2005-06) ruined the bunch. And, using the NCAA's version of a "long-term" metric (4 years), Maryland's bunch was kind of ruined: the score is a 913, which is below the NCAA's 925 penalty cutoff.
Graduation statistics are stubborn and stick around a long time (remember when Steve Yanda cited decade-old stats?), so it's unlikely that the 2005-2006 class including Chris McCray and a few transfers will disappear from the public eye for quite some time. But now that the NCAA has released the Head Coach APR Database with year-by-year rankings for every head coach (which is absent from the usual rankings), we finally have some proof that yes, that year was the sole rotten egg. See?
You've got four years above-average, one year about average, and then Chris McCray and Co. happened.
And it's worth mentioning that the class including Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne, Eric Hayes, and Jerome Burney - all of whom graduated - will be replacing the 2005-06 in next year's version of the rankings. That's switching out the worst possible class with the best possible class, so to speak. The impact should be pretty powerful.
For what it's worth, Ralph has been maintaining a good, if consistently decreasing, score for the past several years. There have been a plethora of academic casualties lately, but football's big enough that if they can avoid any others they should be alright.
Just to see, I looked up a few coaches with...less than reputable reputations. John Calipari, for instance: well, outside of the first two years, he surpassed the national average each year and even ended up with a perfect score while at Memphis. Then there's Bob Huggins, who turned in two straight 1000s at West Virginia. Of course, succeeding at a Tier 3 university like Memphis or West Virginia (no disrespect to alums, just using the rankings system) compared to a top 60 university like Maryland is, one would imagine, significantly easier.
Don't worry, though. Jim Calhoun is still...well, Jim Calhoun. He's been pretty solid for the majority of the years ranked, but turned in a sad 844 last year - nearly 100 points below the national average. (If you were wondering, guys like Roy Williams and Coach K have turned in quite a few perfect scores over the past few years).
Regardless of any individual records, though, it's always good to find more transparency, especially with a controversial system like this. Just another step in the NCAA trying (and sometimes failing) to clean up their image.