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Gonzaga Basketball

Vandals improve APR but lose one scholarship

The University of Idaho is the only local NCAA Division I school that suffered any fallout from the most recent Academic Progress Rates numbers, released by the NCAA on Tuesday.

That’s despite a remarkable improvement shown by the Vandals’ football program in the 2009-10 academic year.

In 2010, the NCAA docked UI’s football team six scholarships after it posted single-season and four-year rolling average APR scores of 908, well less than the 925 threshold that can trigger penalties.

The Vandals raised their score to 972 in the most recent year, which is in the top 20 percent of the nation. But thanks to an 880 score in 2006-07, Idaho’s four-year average is still 923, resulting in the loss of a scholarship.

“Coach (Robb) Akey and I talked and we were not going to be held hostage by the APR,” athletic director Rob Spear said of that 2006-07 number, a result of a housecleaning in Akey’s first year. “If a kid was not doing the right things, not getting it done in the classroom, we said you’re done.”

Because UI knew the punishment was coming, it took the scholarship hit last season.

“This fall we will be at a full 85 scholarships and a full 25 initials,” Spear said. “We’re out from under it, no question.”

Next year the 880 score drops from the average, so Idaho football will have no problem exceeding the 925 threshold, Spear said.

“Actually, this will be the first opportunity in maybe forever that the University of Idaho is able to have 85 guys on scholarship and we will be able to sign our full allotment of initials in next year’s class,” Akey said of the upcoming season. “So I’m really excited about it and proud of where this thing has gotten itself to because that was a big battle.”

The Vandals’ basketball team, which suffered NCAA APR penalties three years ago, continues to improve, raising its rolling average to 942 with a 945 score this year. Overall, five UI programs had perfect scores of 1,000 for the most recent year.

The NCAA instituted the APR in 2005 as part of its academic reform movement. The number calculates how well a school is moving athletes toward graduation. The 925 number translates to a 50 percent graduation rate.

Teams with a four-year average score less than 925 and have a student leave school academically ineligible can be docked up to 10 percent of their scholarships. Teams also face penalties for poor academic numbers over a long period.

Washington State football, only a few years removed from scholarship reductions, posted a 944 score in the most recent year, raising its average to 925.

All Cougars sports posted a four-year average of 925 or higher for the first time. Four programs, including women’s basketball, posted scores of 1,000 in the most recent year.

Eastern Washington men’s basketball’s four-year average score remained at 904, though the Eagles posted a 960 for the most recent year and avoided any penalties. EWU also had five sports with perfect scores.

“Our student-athletes continue to do a great job in the classroom,” EWU athletic director Bill Chaves said in a news release.

At Gonzaga, no program had a four-year average of less than 970 and the Bulldogs had 10 sports post perfect scores in this reporting period.

“We have always taken academics seriously,” Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. “Our APR results are a direct correlation to the emphasis our student-athletes, coaches and support staff put toward academic success. Our student-athletes, in particular, are to be commended for their desire to be successful in the classroom.”