APR: Maybe not all it’s cracked up to be.

How else to explain this passage from Bruce Feldman’s blog?

… As I wrote the other day, the APR system has some quirks in it and critics point out it’s more about keeping players eligible than necessarily making sure they graduate. With that, I noticed something interesting when I saw colleague Tim Griffin’s post about the APR rankings in the Big 12. Oklahoma is actually tops at 952. Texas Tech is 10th at 935. This is almost the opposite of what you’d expect knowing that Tech’s graduation rate was 79 percent while OU’s was 46 percent. (Get full graduation rates here.) [Emphasis added.]

Well, there’s this.

… An ACC administrator I asked Thursday pointed to the APR. “This isn’t going to stop kids from not graduating,” he said. “It’s just a way for the NCAA to make themselves look good. You can have juniors leave early for the NFL and then, if they make an NFL roster, you can still be a 2-for-2 (on the APR point system), but that doesn’t mean you’re graduating.”

Gaming the system.  Remember – that’s something coaches are supposed to be good at.  It’s part of the job description.

8 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

8 responses to “APR: Maybe not all it’s cracked up to be.

  1. I’m not sure I understand why leaving school early to take an awesome job in your chosen profession should be seen as a “failure.”

    College degrees have no inherent value — they’re not magic, you can’t sell them, and they certainly don’t represent “education” in any legitimate sense.

    Bottom line: graduation rate is a ridiculous metric because graduation is a poor proxy for the things we actually care about.

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    • Pete – I agree with you that a kid that gets drafted into professional sports shouldn’t be measured as a failure. The problem is, what sort of metric would work to measure schools to make sure they’re not merely warehousing their athletes? Because, as the NCAA likes to remind us constantly in those annoying commercials, most of those kids aren’t turning pro.

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      • I’m still not sure what you think the problem is with the APR.

        So, yes, for schools that are NFL factories, they can get a high APR even if their graduation rate is low. So what?

        I’m not sure I have to remind anyone that Bill Gates got by just fine without a college degree.

        Which is to say that nobody’s really “gaming the system” here, it’s just that the system doesn’t place the same artificially inflated value on Bachelors degree that the ivory tower would like.

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        • Sure, we all know that everyone who doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree turns out just like Bill Gates.

          It’s not the ivory tower that puts the value on the degree; it’s the marketplace. College grads on average make more money than those who don’t obtain a degree, Gates notwithstanding. The vast majority of kids in college aren’t going to play in the NFL or the NBA, Pete – including the kids who suit up. Shouldn’t there be some accountability in the system to make sure that those who don’t make millions playing on Sunday are at least on track to leave college with a degree?

          If not, let’s just be done with it and funnel all these kids into a developmental league where they can get paid and maybe have the same chance to go to the next level.

          As for gaming the system, that happens in a myriad of ways. Perhaps you can explain how South Florida managed to avoid losing scholarships this year by getting another waiver, despite the fact that its APR declined from the previous year.

          Or perhaps you believe that Oklahoma really sends that many more kids to the NFL early than does Texas Tech.

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          • First: correlation doesn’t imply causation. There is a correlation between degrees and higher salaries, but not everyone with a degree makes more than everyone without. Further, not everyone wants the kind of jobs that would be benefited by having a degree. You’re trying to ascribe your personal value system to thousands of people you’ve never met (and force them to subscribe to it if they want to play college sports).

            “Shouldn’t there be some accountability in the system to make sure that those who don’t make millions playing on Sunday are at least on track to leave college with a degree?”

            The only people responsible for students graduating are the students. Vasity student athletes get more help and hand-holding than any other kind of student — if they don’t graduate, whose problem is that? NCAA rules already require a certain level of academic success in order to play. What more do you want? You can’t force them to graduate, and we shouldn’t be keeping students from receiving financial aid because some other student didn’t value their academic credentials at a level that is acceptible to us.

            Second: You’re moving the goalposts. You quoted an ACC administrator as saying “You can have juniors leave early for the NFL and then, if they make an NFL roster, you can still be a 2-for-2” and then commented “Gaming the system.” This isn’t gaming the system. There may be gaming going on, but all you’re doing is pointing at a handful of odd situations that haven’t been explained to you sufficiently and assuming that’s what’s going on. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and all that.

            Finally: You still haven’t explained what you think is wrong with the APR.

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            • The APR isn’t an attempt to hold the students accountable. It’s an attempt to hold the schools accountable. Regardless of what an individual student’s intent may be in attending college, the school’s mission is to direct its charges toward obtaining a degree. So your point about degrees and salaries seems irrelevant to this discussion, although I understand what you’re arguing.

              The issue should be whether schools are performing their roles as places of higher learning and preparing their SAs in a legitimate way. Is the APR an accurate metric for measuring that? I have my doubts, because I’ve seen plenty of examples of it being manipulated in a variety of ways.

              As for what I think is “wrong” with the APR, I’m still not hearing you answer my question about the disparity between Oklahoma’s and Texas Tech’s numbers. If there’s a logical explanation for it, I probably wouldn’t be as skeptical.

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              • That you haven’t heard an explanation that suits you doesn’t mean their isn’t one.

                Also, one example where the APR didn’t hit its target (assuming, without evidence, that that is the case) doesn’t invalidate the whole system.

                Especially when you’re comparing it to an even more worthless metric: graduation rates.

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                • That you haven’t heard an explanation that suits you doesn’t mean their isn’t one.

                  Well, yeah, Pete. This is a blog, not Holy Writ. 😉 I only get to be skeptical until somebody proves me different.

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