Thirteen of Appalachian State University’s 20 varsity sports programs are above the national average for their respective sports in the latest NCAA Division I

Academic Progress Rate (APR) data, which was released by the NCAA on Wednesday.


In the latest four-year cohort (beginning with the 2009-10 academic year and ending with 2012-13), Appalachian State baseball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, football, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, women’s outdoor track and field, volleyball and wrestling recorded multi-year APR scores that matched or exceeded the national average for their respective sports. Three more programs (softball, women’s indoor track and field and men’s outdoor track and field) were within three points of their sports’ national average.


Women’s golf led the way with a perfect four-year APR average of 1,000. Men’s soccer (987) and football (963) boast multi-year scores that are 17 and 16 points better than their respective sports’ national average.


While the vast majority of its programs continue to excel in APR, an Appalachian State program has incurred penalties for its APR performance for the first time. With a four-year APR average of 922, Appalachian men’s basketball will be ineligible for postseason play in 2014-15.


The postseason ban is due to the men’s basketball program failing to meet the NCAA’s new multi-year threshold of 930 that teams must achieve to avoid penalties. That minimum multi-year average rose 30 points from 900 last year to 930 this year.


In response to below-average APR performance, Appalachian State implemented a comprehensive APR improvement plan for its men’s basketball program in 2013. The plan includes initiatives to recruit the best student-athletes with the strongest academic credentials possible, increases in academic support and academic-related study hours and self-imposed reductions in practice time, including an additional day off from athletic activities each week.


Appalachian State men’s basketball’s latest single-year APR score of 979 in 2012-13 represents an improvement of more than 100 points from the previous year (878 in 2011-12). With a 2013-14 score projected to be in a similar range as 2012-13, the postseason ban is almost certain to be lifted in 2015-16, as one of the ways that the program can regain postseason eligibility is to achieve a two-year APR average of 950.


“First of all, I would be remiss if I didn’t start by congratulating the 19 programs that continue to excel in the APR,” Appalachian State director of athletics Charlie Cobb said. “We are very proud of the overall academic achievement of our student-athletes, which is a testament not only to them but to their coaches and academic advisors.”


“Obviously, we are disappointed with the penalties incurred by our men’s basketball program,” Cobb continued. “It is not something that should happen at Appalachian State and we take full responsibility for the subpar performance.”


“We began taking measures to improve our men’s basketball APR nearly two years ago and while we weren’t able to avoid penalty this year, we are confident that, as evidenced by the 979 single-year score in 2012-13, this year’s penalty will be a one-year aberration at Appalachian State,” Cobb said.


On a related note, while Appalachian State men’s basketball’s APR fell short of expectations in recent years, the program’s graduation success rate has been above the national average for each of the past seven years.


“It’s indisputable that we need to improve our APR. However, we our very proud that our men’s basketball student-athletes have continued to achieve the ultimate goal — earning a diploma — at a rate that is much higher than the national average,” Cobb said.