Of course I’m pleased that Georgia fared well in the current APR figures. With graduation set for this weekend the APR release is a timely reminder of what’s most important to many of Georgia’s student-athletes. But as schools nationwide release and compare their progress rates, remember that the APR is a measure of academic progress and not necessarily of quality.
While I’m not claiming that Georgia (or anyone else) has an inflated APR because their players are all basketweaving majors or that those with low APRs are all struggling with astrophysics degrees, we also know that all majors and all universities are not the same. Progress towards any degree is better than no degree at all, so congratulations are still in order for those, especially the student-athletes, who are responsible for this good news.
We’ve discussed before that academic progress can be another area where money matters. We shouldn’t be surprised that just a single BCS conference school, Ole Miss, is among those getting dinged for a subpar football APR. Only two were penalized last year. Though the big schools appear more often on the men’s basketball list, the schools most likely to be penalized by the APR remain those smaller state schools who are less likely to have the fleet of tutors or academic centers that keep student-athletes on track.
The income disparity between the big programs and conferences and everyone else has been a hot topic lately for obvious reasons. The APR news is just one more data point. If you have the money to maintain a strong academic support system (and you place any kind of priority on academics), you probably did just fine on your APR numbers. It will be interesting to see on the heels of this news if some of the smaller conferences and schools begin to turn the BCS discussion from a debate about postseason structure to a more nuanced question of academics and socioeconomic opportunity.