Are ND student athletes' academics slipping?

Author: Ed Cohen

In past years Notre Dame was always among the top performers in the NCAA’s graduate-rate reports. Under a new formula designed to track student athletes’ academic progress toward a degree, the University doesn’t shine quite as brightly. But it’s apparently no cause for concern.

All 22 Irish athletic programs easily exceeded the new Academic Progress Rate (APR) minimum standard of 925, and 13 Notre Dame teams scored a perfect 1,000. But Notre Dame’s overall APR of 979 wasn’t all that far above the national average for Division I-A (big-league football) schools, 944.

The explanation, according to a Notre Dame press release, is that Notre Dame’s APR would be substantially higher if the University certified academic eligibility using the NCAA’s process rather than its own, more stringent, standard. If it took the NCAA’s approach, the release said, Notre Dame’s published rate would jump above 990.

Athletic Director Kevin White said, “We realize that the higher standards to which we subscribe will adversely affect our APR on occasion, but we will not use that as an excuse to reduce our standards in any way.”

Beginning next year, programs that fail to post an APR of at least 925 will be barred from replacing a scholarship athlete who leaves school while academically ineligible. Programs with chronically poor academic records (based upon a rolling four-year rate) ultimately will be barred from postseason competition in addition to losing scholarships.