The NCAA's Academic Progress Report -- which measures eligibility, retention and graduation covering 2005-2009 -- was released today, and among many solid performances throughout the UGA athletics department, the football score will likely garner the most headlines.
Georgia's football program earned a score of 973 -- second-best in the SEC behind only Vanderbilt. (You can view the full list of scores HERE.)
Amid all the hot-seat discussion in Destin last week, Mark Richt offered his philosophy on career longevity that I was reminded of while looking over the APR numbers.
On his coaching philosophy:
“My mind-set has always been let’s do what I think we need to do to succeed and try not to be influenced by anything other than the people closest to the program. Quite frankly my goal has always been to conduct myself in a way that the university will be proud. … I’m trying to do things in a way with a lot of integrity and a lot of character and hopefully we’re still winning games and educating young men.”
On career longevity:
“I came from Florida State. I was with Coach Bowden who had been there forever. That was kind of the model that I saw and really aspired to have. When I left Florida State, my goal was to find a place I could coach for the rest of my career, and that’s what I found in Georgia. I think if you make decisions based on the longhaul and treat people the way they should be treated, then I don’t think it’s impossible to do.”
I think part of what Richt means when he says those things is that these numbers released today are roughly as important to him as the numbers in the standings each December -- and in the long run, people will respect that enough to overlook the occasional shortcomings the team might have on the field.
I'm not sure how far that philosophy really will carry a coach. After all, the lone SEC team ahead of Georgia in APR is Vandy, and that's probably not going to get many people to overlook the lack of a conference win last year.
But these numbers definitely should earn a program a healthy dose of extra credit, and regardless of how good a job you think Richt has done on the field, it's nice to see the results of his work off it.
Here's the full UGA release on the Bulldogs' APR scores...
The University of Georgia women’s basketball, gymnastics, and men’s golf team scores in the annual NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) released Wednesday were tops among all Southeastern Conference schools. The Bulldog football team’s 973 APR score ranked second best in the SEC behind only Vanderbilt. The UGA men’s basketball team ranked fifth best in the league.
The Academic Progress Rate, now in its sixth year, measures the eligibility, retention and graduation of student-athletes competing on every Division I sports team. It also serves as a predictor of graduation success. The most recent APR scores are multi-year rates based on the scores from the 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09 academic years.
NCAA sports falling below the established point cutoff of 925 are subject to penalties including scholarship reductions. UGA will not incur any penalties as all 20 NCAA Bulldog sports were significantly above the cutoff score.
Other Bulldog teams ranking among the SEC’s top five include women’s cross country (2nd), women’s swimming (3rd), men’s cross country (3rd), men’s indoor track and field (4th), women’s indoor track and field (4th), and men’s outdoor track and field (5th).
While all Georgia sports were above the established cutoff, 11 actually increased their team scores over last year—baseball, men’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s swimming, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s basketball, gymnastics, soccer, women’s swimming, and volleyball.
“We continue to perform well with our APR numbers and that’s a testament to our student-athletes’ hard work as well as the efforts of everyone involved in supporting their academic endeavors,” said UGA Director of Athletics Damon Evans. “We are especially pleased with women’s basketball, gymnastics, and men’s golf ranking #1 among SEC schools. Additionally, football continues to perform at a high level finishing just shy of the number one spot in the conference. The improvement in scores from last year for 11 of our teams is also a great indicator for our programs moving forward. We’ll continue our commitment to graduation and helping our student-athletes reach their goals.”
Georgia’s football APR of 973 was only two points behind league-leading Vanderbilt. The Lady Bulldog basketball and men’s golf teams both scored 1000.