Good grades for Phila.-area college teams in academic report

Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson dribbles past the NCAA logo during practice at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. Wisconsin plays Baylor in a regional semifinal on Thursday. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

The NCAA released its 10th annual report on Academic Progress Rates on Wednesday, and Philadelphia-area universities scored well.

"Across the board, we are trending pretty positively," said Justin Miller, director of Temple's Academic Advising and Support Center for student-athletes. "We have come a long way in all of our sports across the board."

The APR is based on a points system that rewards athletes for staying academically eligible and remaining in school. The report is a four-year compilation of data beginning with the 2009-2010 academic year. It measures the academic performances of all student-athletes who receive grants-in-aid on every team at every NCAA Division I college and university.

None of the local universities received penalties, which are triggered by an overall score below 930 during a four-year span.

The Penn men's basketball team had a perfect score of 1,000 to lead the way. Villanova (983) was second among the City Six schools, followed by Drexel (982). Temple and La Salle tied at 974, and St. Joseph's was at 943.

Penn also was tops among the region's college football teams with a score of 989, followed by Princeton (981), Rutgers (980), Temple (963), and Penn State (954).

The four-year APR for all Division I sports jumped two points, from 974 to 976. The average four-year rate also rose two points in baseball (967) and football (951), five points in men's basketball (957), and one point in women's basketball (973).

"Ten years ago, the membership designed the APR to encourage student-athletes to stay in school and earn good grades," NCAA president Mark Emmert said. "We are pleased to see that more and more student-athletes are doing that every year. The significant academic standards adopted by our membership help us support success in the classroom to the same degree that we support success on the playing field."

Some schools did not escape the wrath of the NCAA.

Thirty-six Division I teams will be banned from competing in the postseason in the coming academic year. That includes nine football teams and eight men's basketball teams.

The Oklahoma State football team will lose one day of practice per week after a 929.41 score in the APR over the last four years. If the Cowboys had reached 929.5, the score would have been rounded up to 930 and no penalty would have been assessed.

Miller said the APR has paid dividends because it allows schools and universities to pool their resources to better prepare student-athletes for the rigors of the classroom.

"From our academic leadership to the coaches and to the academic support staff, everyone is drawn in," Miller said. "The result is the creation of a culture that seeks to raise academic standards across the board."