The academic performance of Division I athletes is improving under the watchful eye of the NCAA, an organization that has assembled one of the most comprehensive accountability systems in higher education.
Many universities in the District, Maryland and Virginia drew praise in the latest round of NCAA academic scorecards. But several teams — including University of Maryland football -- drew penalties for unacceptably low Academic Progress Rates.
The NCAA introduced academic penalties several years ago, part of an increasingly sophisticated program to monitor the scholarship of scholar-athletes.
Teams are rated with three-digit Academic Progress Rates, which track academic performance over four years. I couldn’t find a detailed definition of the rate; an NCAA release said the average rate across all Division I teams is 970 this year, up three points from last year. A few teams earned a perfect score of 1,000. Some scored below 900.
I will dwell first on the handful of penalties and then on the much larger number of plaudits.
Nationwide, 103 teams at 67 colleges were sanctioned for poor academic performance. An academic progress rate below 925 triggers potential penalties. Among the penalized teams:
University of Maryland football, with an academic rate of 922.
Howard University football and women’s lacrosse, with academic rates of 912 and 910, respectively.
Men’s basketball and men’s wrestling at the Virginia Military Institute, with academic rates of 917 and 914, respectively.
Men’s basketball at Coppin State and Morgan State universities in Maryland, with academic rates of 834 and 890, respectively.
Men’s basketball at Norfolk State in Virginia, with an academic rate of 894.
Football and men’s track at Hampton University in Virginia, with academic rates of 916 and 918, respectively.
The list of public recognition awards for local teams, signifying that their academics rank among the top 10 percent nationally, is too long to recite. It includes many teams at Georgetown, George Washington and American universities in the District. Among Maryland institutions, the U.S. Naval Academy and Loyola University Maryland are particularly well-represented, with several awards each. The University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the College of William and Mary all are represented, along with a few surprises, including the Liberty University softball team and the women’s golf and cross country teams at Longwood University.