The first thing Ernie Kent did when he and his staff arrived at Washington State wasn't call recruits or install his scheme. Instead, he made sure the departing players that he would never coach—D.J. Shelton, James Hunter, Royce Woolridge, Will Dilorio—got their degrees and that the remaining players were in good academic standing.
The academic emphasis paid off for Kent today, as the Cougars narrowly avoided penalties in the NCAA's just-released Academic Progress Rate (APR). The NCAA gives each team a yearly APR score out of 1,000 that measures its academic performance and retention. If a team's average score over a four-year period dips below 930 it faces penalties, including potential postseason ineligibility.
The reason for Kent's urgency? A score of 900 in 2010-11 that, paired with a 926 last season, seemed almost certain to result in some sort of academic punishment for the WSU men's basketball team. In fact, because basketball has so few scholarships (here is an explanation of how the scoring works) even one player leaving in poor academic standing could have torpedoed the Cougars below the 930 threshold.
Instead, the Cougars posted a 963 for 2013-14, keeping their four-year rolling at to 938 and effectively out of the danger zone. Next year that 900 score will no longer be included in the multiyear average, meaning the Cougars would have to post an especially bad score to face any sort of sanctions.
Here is the APR info for all the WSU athletic teams. No other teams appear to be in danger of sanctions and the men's and women's cross country, women's basketball, women's golf, rowing and volleyball teams all posted perfect one-year scores.