Baseball improves APR scores, avoids severe NCAA penalties

By: Jonathan Ramos / Asst. Sports Director
When the NCAA released its Academic Progress Rates a year ago, the baseball team accumulated a four-year average of 873 en route to its second historical penalty, which limited them to sixteen practice hours a week.

In light of the most recent report released this past May, the program’s four-year average remained at 873, which would’ve resulted in severe historical penalty-occasion three penalties.

However, the school filed a historical penalty waiver for baseball looking to get relief from penalties on the grounds that the program has shown great improvement.

As a result of the waiver, the NCAA relieved FIU of the occasion three penalty and once again handed baseball an occasion two penalty. Had the University not filed the waiver, the baseball program could have faced postseason banishment, a reduction in scholarships awarded and renewed and have its regular season and practice times limited as well.

APR Specialist Monique Garcia said the school was not satisfied with the single-year results but remains optimistic in the program.

“It’s huge, because baseball is going into a historical three penalty, and last year they did not lose one point in eligibility,” she said. “But they are coming off of a very low multi-year number. It’s going to take a long time to fix baseball.”

The APR is a system the NCAA uses to forecast roughly how many student-athletes each program is on pace to graduate. Each student-athlete is worth up to two points-one point for staying academically eligible and one point for staying enrolled with the institution. The APR scores are calculated by dividing the team’s accumulated points by the maximum number possible. That number is then multiplied by 1,000.

Although the team achieved a 917 single-year score for the 2008-09 academic year, the team had the lowest APR score of any intercollegiate sport in the University. The team’s regular season was reduced from 55 to 54 games and limited its playing days to 125, according to the 2007-08 report.

The team accumulated a 925 score for the 06-07 academic year, but that followed a horrendous campaign in 05-06 that saw the Golden Panthers finish with a 725. All Division I baseball teams averaged a 946 APR score, according to the 2007-08 report.

Garcia said FIU was very active in seeking relief from the NCAA.

“We applied for a waiver, but we kind of self-imposed our own penalties just from the history of FIU baseball and what we are trying to fix,” she said. “We went ahead and asked them, we won’t ask for relief from this, we want partially relief from that, but we do want full relief and want our scholarships back because we have made such drastic improvements.”

Over the last three years, the University lost 17.87 scholarships due to contemporaneous penalties, yet no program lost any scholarships this past academic year.

Contemporaneous penalties restrict the number of initial scholarships and scholarship renewals a team may award. These penalties occur when programs do not obtain an APR score of 925 over a four-year period and have at least one athlete leave the institution while academically ineligible.

The four-year rolling average takes into account the previous four academic years, and the University will still have to wait a few seasons before getting the 05-06 season off the books and improving their multi-year score. The baseball team was the only FIU program that had a worse single-year score than last year.

“The historical penalty waiver is when you are way behind. Baseball did not suffer any further losses because they did not suffer eligibility issues,” she said. “Their number still was technically low at 917, because you need 925 single-year to maintain a 925 multi-year. With everything that was going on, it was still a drastic improvement.”

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