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Sports >  Area sports

Sixteen local Division I teams earn APR perfection; Idaho men’s basketball posts troubling four-year total

UPDATED: Tue., May 19, 2020

Eastern Washington forward Kim Aiken Jr.  tries to shoot past Idaho forward Quinton Forrest  on Feb. 13  in Cheney. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington forward Kim Aiken Jr. tries to shoot past Idaho forward Quinton Forrest on Feb. 13 in Cheney. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Sixteen athletic programs from local Division I colleges have achieved perfection, according to the NCAA’s latest Academic Progress Rate report, while one other came close to incurring a potential postseason ban or reduced practice time due to dangerously low APR scores.

Of the 16 programs that achieved a four-year rolling APR total of 1,000, eight came from Gonzaga, four were from the University of Idaho, three from Eastern Washington and one from Washington State.

The APR, a tool used by the NCAA to measure graduation and retention rate, is graded on a 1,000-point scale. The numbers released Tuesday represent a four-year average of APR scores from the 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.

Every scholarship athlete at a school can earn up to two points per academic semester – one for staying in school and another for maintaining academic eligibility – and teams that fail to keep a four-year APR average above 930 can be penalized by the NCAA.

Of the region’s 55 Division I athletic programs, just one recorded a multiyear APR total in the 930 range. Idaho’s men’s basketball program, which was under the direction of first-year coach Zac Claus in 2019-20, scored 891 for the 2018-19 academic year – the last of Don Verlin’s 11-year tenure – and registered a multiyear total of 937.

APR scores can be heavily influenced by transfers if athletes that leave for other four-year schools don’t earn a grade-point-average of 2.6 or higher. The Vandals had five players enter the transfer portal immediately following the 2018-19 season and two more left the program after Verlin was dismissed.

Because the single-year score of 1,000 that UI recorded in 2015-16 won’t factor into next year’s multiyear average, and because the Vandals recorded scores of 923, 920 and 891 in the three years that followed, the basketball program will need to hit a single-year total of at least 986 in 2019-20 to maintain a four-year total of 930.

Washington State’s men’s basketball and baseball teams, other programs that were under new leadership in 2019-20, posted low single-year APR totals of 894 and 922, respectively, under former coaches Ernie Kent and Marty Lees. They are not in immediate danger of NCAA penalties, though, with Kyle Smith’s basketball team earning a four-year average of 959 and Brian Green’s baseball team posting a score of 956.

Both of the area’s marquee athletic programs stayed well clear of the 930 threshold, with Nick Rolovich’s WSU football team posting a multiyear average of 963 and a single-year score of 969, and Mark Few’s Gonzaga basketball team totaling a single-year score of 957 that dropped the Bulldogs’ four-year rate from 1,000 to a still-impressive 990.

Gonzaga’s eight perfect scorers, each posting multiyear rates of 1,000, were men’s cross-country, men’s golf, men’s soccer, men’s track and field, women’s basketball, women’s cross-country, women’s tennis and women’s track and field.

The men’s cross-country, men’s golf, women’s cross-country and women’s golf teams from the University of Idaho joined the men’s cross-country, women’s soccer and women’s tennis teams from Eastern Washington, along with the men’s golf team from Washington State in also recording perfect multiyear APR scores.

Each of those eight teams managed to keep perfect multiyear totals, which required them to notch single-year scores of 1,000 for the 2018-19 academic session.

Other local teams also managed perfect single-year totals of 1,000, including baseball and men’s tennis at Gonzaga; women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, women’s volleyball and men’s tennis at UI; women’s cross-country, women’s golf, men’s basketball and men’s track and field at EWU; and women’s basketball, women’s cross-country, women’s track and field and women’s tennis at WSU.

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