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Examining the latest NAU academic progress rate report
NORTHERN ARIZONA ATHLETICS

Examining the latest NAU academic progress rate report

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NAU Dome

A shot overlooking Northern Arizona University and the Walkup Skydome.

While the multi-year academic progress rates remained low for some Northern Arizona athletics programs, a few saw welcomed single-year increases.

The NCAA recently released its annual APR report, which details academic success over four-year and a single-year spans across all college sports. All of Northern Arizona's sanctioned sports came in above the minimum multi-year threshold of 930 to avoid NCAA penalties.

As a whole, Northern Arizona athletics saw an average single-year score of 980 for the 2018-19 academic year and raised its score for the fifth straight year. The department's multi-year rate jumped from 967 to 972.

Within the Big Sky Conference, Northern Arizona landed at third with the 980 single-year score.

"Our student-athletes, coaches and staff strive to make our community and alumni proud of our efforts in the classroom, community and the fields of competition," said Northern Arizona Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Marlow in a press release. "The recent APR scores demonstrate athletics' alignment with campus values and the priority placed on academics at NAU. A shared focus on the academic success of our student-athletes will continue to be a core objective of Lumberjack Athletics."

The APR measures both athlete retention and eligibility. Each player can earn one point for returning and one point for staying eligible each semester -- the APR is the average of those scores multiplied by 1,000. Athletes who transfer but have GPAs of at least 2.6 -- good academic standing -- would not cost a program an APR point.

The men's basketball program hit a 934 score for its multi-year report for the second straight season, barely above the 930 minimum and good for last among Big Sky programs.

However, the Lumberjacks did post their highest single-year score since 2012-13 at 980 for the 2018-19 academic year -- well above the 918 single-year mark in 2017-18.

The uptick for the men's basketball team -- which occurred following the end of former head coach Jack Murphy's final year with the program -- coincided with a lack of transfers that the program had seen in years past and the benefit of graduate transfers who positively affect the score. The near 60-point jump was the largest single-year improvement of any Northern Arizona program.

The football team posted a 944 multi-year score -- last among Big Sky schools -- and a 946 single-year mark that was reported following former head coach Jerome Souers' final season. The multi-year score saw a bump of four points and the single-year mark was an 11-point improvement, showing the team is trending slightly upward.

Women's basketball also saw a notable jump from its previous single-year mark of 955, hitting 983 for the 2018-19 academic year. The team's multi-year rate also increased, going from 965 to 974.

Men's cross country scored 951 for the single-year mark, more than 20 points lower than its mark in 2017-18 as the program is at a 964 multi-year mark. Men's tennis saw its single-year mark drop from 1,000 to 964 for the largest single-year dip of any Northern Arizona program, but its multi-year rate went up from 971 to 977. 

Women's cross country recorded a perfect single-year score of 1,000 for the third straight year while volleyball, golf and women's tennis also recorded perfect single-year scores.

Women's soccer went from a 966 single-year mark to 1,000, as its multi-year stays steady at 989. The women's track program saw its single-year score decrease from 991 to 962, the biggest dip of the Northern Arizona women's program. The women's track team's multi-year rate did go up, however, from 962 to 969.

Swim and dive took a slight dip in its single-year mark, dropping from 992 to 983 while its multi-year mark dropped just two points to 988.

Lance Hartzler can be reached at 556-2251 or at lhartzler@azdailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @lance_hartz.

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