Division I Wrestling makes HUGE improvement in Academic Progress Rate (APR)

The NWCA is thrilled to announce that Division I wrestling has improved its “single year” Academic Progress Rate (APR) by 18 points over a five year period (2009/10 to 2014/15).  This 18 point APR “increase” ranks second only behind football which had an increase of 20 points over the same five year period (with respect to sports that are sponsored by 50 or more NCAA member institutions).  Division I wrestling had a “single year” APR of 960 in 2009/10 and it has improved to a 978 in 2014/15.  The most recent “single year” APR score of 978 has enabled Division I wrestling to move out of the bottom of NCAA sports and into the middle of the pack.

Historically, the APR has been challenging for many Division I wrestling programs in part because our sport ranks #3 with respect to first generation college bound students (and we rank #1 across all three NCAA collegiate divisions).  In other words, a large percentage of wrestlers come from families where none of their parents or grandparents attended college.  Research suggests that students who are first generation college bound typically have lower eligibility, retention, and graduation rates for reasons that are still being investigated.  As you can probably imagine, many college presidents pride themselves on attracting first generation college bound students to college but only if they stay in school and graduate.

As a result, the NWCA has dedicated considerable resources to helping Division I wrestling coaches to improve their APR scores including but not limited to:

  •  Providing FREE APR consultants to underfunded or under-resourced teams
  • Provide coaches with access to our nation’s top APR experts/consultants at our annual convention
  • The development of an APR improvement manual for all coaches.
  • Eligibility and retention is a main theme in our annual CEO Leadership Academy that deserving head/assistant college coaches receive full scholarships to attend.

Please know that the NWCA does not intend to limit our support of coaches to the above mentioned strategies.  We are currently in the process of raising $25,000 so we can fund a doctoral research study that focuses on the establishment of “best practices” for improving the eligibility and retention rates of first generation college bound wrestlers.  We will be sure to keep our membership informed on our progress.

On behalf of the NWCA Board of Directors and our President, Coach Mark Cody, we would like to congratulate all Division I wrestling coaches for their tireless efforts to make APR improvement a priority on their respective teams.

***** As a matter of background, the NCAA implemented the Academic Progress Rate (APR) in 2003 as a way of measuring eligibility and retention of Division I student-athletes on each collegiate team (and in all NCAA sanctioned sports).  The APR for each team is actually a four year average that takes into account the eligibility and retention of scholarship athletes (and recruited athletes at schools that do not offer athletic scholarships).   There are some very significant penalties for teams and schools with four year APR averages below 930 including but not limited to prohibiting a team from participating in post season NCAA Championships.  The NCAA research department suggests that an APR of 960 equates to a 60% graduation rate which is 10 points higher than that of the non-athlete student who attends college. With this in mind, it is widely accepted that team APR scores from 960 and upwards to 1000 are the goal.

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