STILLWATER – Oklahoma State’s football program is taking an APR hit.
And a practice time hit.
Falling just short of the NCAA’s enhanced minimum APR requirement – by nine-one-hundreds of a point – OSU will lose one practice day per week in the coming season. That was the penalty imposed by the NCAA, revealed Wednesday; one preferable to a loss of scholarships or, worst case, postseason eligibility.
The APR – Academic Progress Rate – is a sport-based metric based on two factors for each scholarship athlete per term: eligibility (1 point) and retention (1 point). So athletes can earn as many four points for their program in any given year.
OSU’s APR average score of 929.41 over the past four years falls just shy of the 930 minimum requirement, raised this year from the previous minimum of 900. The NCAA also considers two-year scores, of which the Cowboys produced a 943.54 average, with a minimum of 940 needed to maintain postseason eligibility. The addition of one point from one player in any of the four years would have been enough to prevent any penalty.
It was the two-year score that kept OSU alive for postseason play, although the four-year score resulted in a reduction of practice time.
“We are taking steps to ensure that our APR numbers improve moving forward,” said OSU athletic director Mike Holder. “We are accountable for what we do and ultimately, we are here to serve our student-athletes and do our best to keep them on track to be lifelong contributors to society.”
OSU officials are encouraged by upward trending scores, enough to make them believe the penalty will last but one year.
The football program’s average scores for the past four years:
2009-10 – 916.
2010-11 – 915.
2011-12 – 953.
2012-13 – 934.
The 916 score for 2009-10 will fall out of the equation next year, replaced by 2013-14, when the Cowboys featured 30 seniors, a figure that should at least boost retention numbers. OSU’s improvement over the past two seasons resulted in some lenience from the NCAA, a two-hour reduction in practice time, rather than the standard four for Level 1 penalties.
OSU must also limit its practices to five days each week, one less than currently utilized.
“We have shown significant improvement over the last two years and we were able to demonstrate that we’ve taken strategies to address the areas where we were losing points,” said Kevin Fite, OSU’s director for compliance. “That’s why we received partial relief from the standard penalty.”
The program’s numbers were actually improved from a year ago, when OSU scored 926 over four years, but the NCAA raised its minimums for this season, from 900 for four years and 930 for two years, to 930 and 940.
Oklahoma State and New Mexico State were the only FBS schools to receive Level 1 penalties, while Nevada and Idaho were hit with postseason bans.
One factor impacting OSU over this four-year reporting period was players who remained on scholarship, yet focused on NFL Draft preparation in their final semester, while not completing their classwork.
Cowboys coach Mike Gundy and his staff now face the challenge of managing a limited work week.
OSU has recently utilized a light Sunday workout, before a day off Monday. One alternative could be to give the team Sunday and Monday off. Or the traditional Friday walk-through could be scrapped, especially for home games.