We're all very happy that a certain mustachioed writer is no longer covering the USF beat, because we're sure that the announcement of USF's new multiyear and 2008-09 Academic Progress Rate scores would have led to something technically true but extremely misleading appearing in one of tomorrow's papers. Maybe something like this:
"Despite small improvements, USF's multiyear Academic Progress Rates remain lower than the NCAA average for most sports and may subject the school to scholarship penalties in the future.
"The Bulls' football APR for 2008-2009 increased by only 0.9%, leaving them in the 20th-30th percentile of all Division I. Meanwhile, the baseball team's APR remains in the bottom 10% of all Division I programs.
"When asked about the football team's continued below-average APR scores today at a Tampa courtroom, Jim Leavitt refused comment.
"A Catholic bishop, a retired kindergarten teacher, and the exhumed body of former USF president John Allen all expressed disappointment at the results. I am using their assumed trustworthiness as pathetic examples to prove my point, because obviously these people would NEVER steer you wrong when something as important as our children's education and future are involved. THESE SCORES ARE AN OUTRAGE AND THESE PILLARS OF OUR COMMUNITY SAY SO! DO YOU NOT SHARE THIS OUTRAGE, EASILY INFLUENCED READER?"
We're pretty sure APR day was his favorite day of the year on the USF beat, because it was the one day where he didn't have to work hard at all to try and embarrass the school.
OK, now that we got that out of the way... the real story, and the fact is USF's APRs improved dramatically almost across the board.
USF's four-year football score, graded out of 1000, jumped from 909 to 930, matching Illinois for the largest improvement by any BCS football program. The Bulls are now above the NCAA's threshold score of 925, eliminating any possible penalty, and USF's annual football APR went up for the third year in a row, from 879 to 937 to 947 to this year's 956.
Men's basketball saw their multiyear APR go up 37 points, from 878 to 915. Baseball's 2008-09 APR was 991, the highest score possible that isn't a perfect 1000, which is what the softball team scored. Four other teams also managed perfect 1000 scores in 2008-09. Some of the multiyear scores are still pretty low, but they're getting better quickly.
(Side note here - you might want to add "just in the nick of time" because of conference turmoil, but it doesn't fit. The conferences really care more about your research and your university's overall academic status than they do about the individual results of student-athletes. The only thing hurting USF on that front is age, as Toro pointed out last week.)
Along with the department-wide focus on boosting USF's APR, I think all the turmoil, transfers, and other departures caused by the transition from Conference USA to the Big East came off the books this year, which obviously would have helped the multiyear scores. And to the credit of Amy Perkins and the student-athlete development staff, they're obviously not going to rest now. Last January every student-athlete received a MacBook Pro to help them study (ed. note: an excellent choice), and they expect the scores to continue rising. Hopefully that will bear out and we'll never again have to have someone with an ax to grind making a big spectacle out of the APR each year.