The football and basketball programs at Fresno State posted poor Academic Progress Rate scores for the 2015-16 academic year, numbers low enough to jeopardize their eligibility for postseason play in the future if not corrected.
In football the score is 916 out of a maximum of 1,000, the lowest going back more than a decade. In basketball the score is 857 – low, but given the history of the program far from a record. In 2005, the Bulldogs’ basketball program posted a 611, which is one of the lowest single-year scores in history for any school and in any sport.
How much trouble are the Bulldogs in?
The Fresno State football program had a single-year APR score of 916 and basketball was a 857, but four athletic programs had the maximum score of 1,000 – women’s cross country, women’s golf, women’s soccer and women’s tennis.
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Both programs are still above the multi-year threshold of 930 that is required to be eligible for postseason play next season, though both were well below overall scores in those sports. In football the Bulldogs’ multi-year score is 944, compared to an overall score of 962. In basketball the Bulldogs are at 947, compared to 966.
But the low scores that were released on Wednesday by the NCAA do impact that multi-year score, calculated over four years, and there is little margin for error. Those scores will stick to the programs for three more years.
“We’re going to have to continue to have very good APR years to balance out that score for the next three years,” said Steve Robertello, deputy director of athletics.
“Our academic staff, working with our coaching staff, are managing it to know, ‘OK, these are the various scenarios and things that can occur,’ so that things are managed and (there are) discussions about possible transfer situations and those things. Your roster discussion with the APR is a very prominent piece of that as we’re moving forward.”
Under APR, which measures eligibility and retention or progress toward a degree, every scholarship student-athlete receives one point every semester for remaining eligible and one point for staying in school or graduating. There are 17 teams across Division I in all sports that will be ineligible for postseason play next season due to low APR scores; there were 23 ineligible teams in 2016-17 and 21 in 2015-16.
We’re going to have to continue to have very good APR years to balance out that score for the next three years.
Steve Robertello, deputy director of athletics
Terry, who cleaned up an APR mess after he was hired in 2011 and had teams post three highest single-year scores in program history with a 980, 978 and 978 before the 857, took a pragmatic view.
“I’m not overly concerned about it,” he said. “I say that because of what we’ve been able to do in the past and what we’ve done since we’ve been here. We never got any great credit when we were doing an unbelievable job with it, but sometimes it comes with the territory, in basketball in particular. All it takes is for a couple of guys to get off on the wrong path to knock you off a little bit.
“We’ve built up a pretty good bank, but just like anything you have to continue to nurture it.”
The 857 score from 2015-16 was due primarily to the unexpected departure of two players before completing coursework for the spring semester.
The football score also is due mainly to retention issues and while preliminary estimates following the spring semester again were low, Robertello said the expectation now is that the APR number for ’16-17 will surpass the 916 from 2015-16.
Coach Jeff Tedford, who inherited an APR jumble along with a 1-11 team, has targeted academic achievement in his program and has players meeting regularly with assistant coaches and academic support staff.
What impact did the 916 APR score for 2015-16 have on the Bulldogs’ multi-year score? It fell to 944 from 953. A 930 is required to be eligible to participate in postseason play.
Fresno State can file waivers for players who left the football program for medical reasons. The staff also is making sure any student-athlete who transfers is in good academic standing.
There also is a pro exception that can help the Bulldogs’ boost their APR score, provided that player was academically eligible and on a NFL roster. Schools also can earn a bonus point for players returning to school and completing degrees.
Both programs will benefit from a beefed-up academic support staff. The athletic department, with university support, has added a new director and new coordinator position. There now is a staff of seven, up from three heading into the 2015-16 academic year.
“I’m very confident moving forward,” Robertello said. “A lot of it is the buy-in from both coaches. They’re working tremendously hard in this area and our staff is working hard and I think you start looking at it, we have really good kids in both programs.
“We have two gentlemen in basketball that are juniors that are getting their degrees this year. There are a lot of positive things going on, and when you look at the recruiting classes that are coming in and who they’re recruiting, the academic stability there, I think it’ll be very good moving forward.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada