FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Mike Anderson’s first academic test at Arkansas was so successful that he was able to weather a dip his second time around.
A year after leading the Razorbacks men’s basketball program to its highest performance on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, Anderson once again helped the school exceed the NCAA’s academic benchmark in all 19 of its sports - according to figures released by the NCAA on Wednesday.
It’s the second straight year Arkansas has topped the 930 benchmark for academic performance in all sports, and it did so despite a drop in performance in men’s basketball.
The APR measures the classroom performance of every Division I team. This year’s data calculates rates from 2009-10 through 2012-13.
The school topped academic benchmark in each of its sports programs for the first time last year, with the men’s basketball program exceeding the mark for the first time.
The basketball program scored a four-year score of 937 this year, down from a 951 a year ago. That was largely due to a single-year score of 902 during the 2012-13 season - after which former players BJ Young and Marshawn Powell left school to turn professional.
Schools aren’t necessarily hurt when a player leaves school before graduation, as long as the player turns professional, but they can take a hit if the player isn’t eligible when they leave.
Despite the drop in basketball from a single-year score of 977 a year ago, Arkansas assistant athletic director Jon Fagg was confident the score would rise moving forward - a change from when the program lost a scholarship during the 20011-12 season for a low APR score.
“It’s really hard to describe how much better we feel about it,” Fagg said. “Coach Anderson really does a great job of setting an entire culture for his team.”
Three sports scored a perfect 1,000 on the four-year scores, including the men’s and women’s golf teams as well as volleyball.
Fagg said the school pays close attention to any program that falls below a score of 940. In addition to the men’s basketball score, the football (935) and women’s basketball (936) teams were also in that category - though Fagg again said he didn’t anticipate falling below the benchmark in the future.
“I’m proud of our coaches, our student-athletes success staff and most importantly our student-athletes for their dedication to academic achievement,” Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said. “We have made remarkable progress but still have work to do.”