Disclaimer: This is confusing, even to me, and I wrote it. Feel free to ask any questions or make any corrections in the comments. Also, MATH.
Back in November, I was reading Meat Market, Bruce Feldman's highly entertaining and informative look at college football recruiting. Feldman chronicled a year of recruiting at Ole Miss, then being led by crazed psychopath and internet sensation Ed Orgeron.
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Early in the book, Feldman discusses the NCAA's new academic reform project. In an attempt to penalize teams that don't work to keep players eligible or graduate its student-athletes, the NCAA devised a new measure, Academic Progress Rate (APR). It's actually a very simple calculation: Each player on your team who remains on the team earns your team one point. Each player remaining on the team who is also academically eligible earns a second point. In other words, a player who remains on the team and eligible through the academic year is valuable; on the other hand, a player who leaves the program without completing the academic semester or while ineligible is a significant detriment.
The total points earned by your team is divided by the total points your team was eligible to earn, then indexed on a scale of 1000. If your program's four-year APR falls below 925, your team loses scholarships. Getting on the bad side of APR could rot your program from the inside out, reducing both your total number of available scholarships and the number available to incoming freshmen.
You can imagine why I was immediately concerned. The Gazette is concerned, too. Of course, in classic Iowa City press corps fashion, the write-up is full of errors. Don't worry, grasshopper: This year, Iowa should be fine.
As previously stated, APR is measured as a four-year average (the Gazette article incorrectly calls it a three-year average). Iowa's three previous APR ratings:
- 2004: 949
- 2005: 951
- 2006: 971
For Iowa's APR to drop below 925, its 2007 APR would have to be 828 or lower.
The Gazette article notes 15 players have left the program. I'm assuming these are the same players mentioned by BHGP friend of the program Eric Page. Also, based on my interpretation of the rules governing APR,* the 2007 calculation is only decreased for players who left or became ineligible before the end of 2007. Of the seventeen players listed by Page, two left due to injury and retained their scholarships. At least three players (Bowman, Cleveland, and Nelson) left in 2008, and their academic status at that time is unknown. Farnsworth transferred without losing eligibility. That leaves, at most, 11 players who left the program while academically ineligible in 2007, translating to 23 points against Iowa's APR. That translates to a Huggins-esque minimum 2007 APR of 865. While that is fucking atrocious, it's not bad enough to take the 4-year average APR below 925 (it would be 934, to be exact).
The good news? That's the worst case scenario. In fact, it's likely a number of other players who left the program this year were academically eligible at the time they left. If only half of the 11 players who left did so while academically eligible, Iowa's 2007 APR improves to a balmy 900. That's more than enough to keep the program's scholarships intact.
The bad news? That 2007 APR, whether in the high 800's or low 900's, stays on the books for 4 years. If the attrition continues, it won't be long before Iowa falls below 925 and starts losing scholarships. At least 4 players have already bolted this year, all of which lost academic eligibility for leaving mid-semester. Even if there are no other defections, Iowa's maximum 2008 APR would be 951. In other words, we aren't out of the woods yet.
So, Hawkeye fans, we had better watch the waiver wire closely from here on.
* -- For full disclosure, I am working with incomplete information because full information is unavailable. I derived the calculation from the explanation given by Feldman, the vague description given by the NCAA, and a look back at 2006. I can't say for certain the calculation is correct. Also, if the 15 players referenced by the Gazette are different than the 15 given by Page (doubtful, as I'm sure the Gazette merely pulled the list from Page's post, especially given the level of in-depth reporting done by the Gazette in the remainder of the article), the APR could be different. Also, I have no knowledge of any Iowa player who is academically ineligible but still with the program. If there are any such players, the APR would decrease. However, even if 15 players left the program in 2007, and all 15 were academically ineligible, Iowa's 4-year APR would be exactly 925. If, of course, the calculation is correct.