APR scores: Maryland improves academically but lags behind conference peers

Maryland's basketball and football programs improved their academic rates in 2012-13, but they remain well behind most of the Big Ten and ACC. - Patrick McDermott

Maryland gets some perfect scores, while football and men's basketball improve incrementally but still lag behind conference peers in both the ACC and Big Ten. All programs avoid NCAA sanctions.

The NCAA's annual Academic Progress Rates are out today, and there's plenty of Maryland data to comb through.

Sport 2012-13 Academic Progress Rate
Baseball 932
Football 950
Men’s Golf 950
Men’s Basketball 953
Women’s Tennis 955
Softball 957
Women’s Basketball 959
Men’s Soccer 974
Men’s Wrestling 975
Women’s Track, Indoor 975
Women’s Track, Outdoor 975
Women’s Cross Country 977
Women’s Soccer 980
Women’s Lacrosse 981
Men’s Lacrosse 982
Men’s Track, Outdoor 982
Women’s Gymnastics 984
Women’s Volleyball 995
Field Hockey 1000
Women’s Golf 1000

Some of the good news: Every Maryland athletic team stayed above the 930 APR cutoff to avoid NCAA discipline, and the football and men's basketball programs took incremental steps forward. Missy Meharg's field hockey program scored a perfect 1000, as did Jason Rodenhaver's women's golf team.

The football program posted a multi-year rate of 950, which places it just next to the 951 national average for the sport (as it was pointed out by Mike Carmin). The football team had its share of academic problems under Ralph Friedgen, which resulted in the loss of three scholarships out of the 2009-10 report, when the team APR was 922 -- under the cutoff for the second-straight year. But this marks three consecutive years of improvements for Randy Edsall's team, which has now seen jumps to 931, 937 and 950 in the past three reports.

On a more negative note: Unfortunately for Maryland, while the 950 APR is an improvement, it isn't up to par with its conference peers. In the ACC, the football team was tied for second-to-last, ahead of North Carolina, which isn't exactly encouraging. In the Big Ten, Maryland's football APR would have ranked dead last for the entire league.

Men's basketball posted a 953 APR, up from 948 the year before but down from a 970 peak in 2010-11. The men's program's APR had otherwise hovered just above 900 every year since 2005. It is the second-highest score for the program since APR went into effect for the 2004-05 season.

Mark Turgeon's program was fourth-from-last in the ACC and would have been second-to-last in the Big Ten, ahead of only Nebraska.

The women's basketball team had a 959 APR after a slight dip the previous year. Brenda Frese's team was second-worst in the ACC and would have placed last in the Big Ten.

The highest-scoring men's teams were lacrosse and indoor track, at 982.

The lowest-scoring program was baseball, which earned a 932, just above the cutoff. The baseball program's APR has trended downward for years now. It was 963 in 2005-06 and had gone down to 930 before a small uptick in this year's score.

A disclaimer: APR scores are a bit hard to read, because they're meant to measure whether student-athletes are moving in the right direction, not what their final academic product is. So harder curricula could theoretically create lower APR and vice versa. It's not a standardized test and doesn't rate universities' academic rigor, and there's no definitive baseline from which to judge all the schools in a given conference. Ultimately, then, there's a good deal left to interpretation in these figures.

Update: Here's a quote from athletic director Kevin Anderson on the APR scores, through a Maryland press release:

"We are proud of the hard work and dedication our student-athletes have displayed in the classroom," said director of athletics Kevin Anderson. "Our commitment is to provide a culture where academic success is at the forefront of the student-athlete experience. We will continue to emphasize the importance of preparing student-athletes for productive, successful lives after Maryland."

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