Youth Wrestling




NCAA Academic Performance Rate (APR) - Effect on College Wrestling Recruiting

More Brains and Less Brawn in College Wrestling Recruiting?

When coaching legend Vince Lombardi coined the phrase “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,” he had no idea the NCAA Academic Performance Rate (APR) would eventually makes its way into NCAA wrestling, other college sports and possibly change the landscape for recruiting athletes. 

Notre Dame Football and Vanderbilt University basketball are only two examples of the tough academic standards being applied to potential recruits. This doesn’t exactly sit well with alumni looking for dominance on the paying fields, but it’s the hard reality of higher learning institutions demanding higher graduation rates.

Over the past 35 years, Title IX and various eligibility and recruiting requirements have governed the way NCAA colleges fill their sports rosters using athletic scholarships in the hope of attracting the most talented players. The Academic Performance Rate (APR) may change the recruiting process and the skill level of athletes that are recruited. 

But what exactly is it? and how might it change the process for recruiting athletes?

In laymen’s terms, the Academic Performance Rate is a directive issued to all participating NCAA Division 1 college athletic programs.  It requires NCAA participants in sports programs to graduate at least 50 percent of their athletes over time.  An APR score of 925 is equal to 50% (I’ll explain the formula in a minute) but…

There is an escalating scale of penalties for schools that fall below the APR 925 (50%) threshold.  Schools failing to reach the 925 number initially receive warnings, but the penalties can increase to the loss of scholarships and even expulsion from the NCAA.

Click here to download a copy of the NCAA APR Directive

Click here to check which schools have been subject to recent penalties.


Click here for the latest Academic Performance Rate (APR) data on any NCAA School.

Here is the NCAA’s definition of the APR:

NCAA Academic Performance Rate (From NCAA APR Directive) - The NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate (APR) is a metric that awards points for academic eligibility/graduation (E) and retention (R). Eligibility is important as it measures a student's progress toward a degree at regular intervals. Retention is a crucial part of the APR.

NCAA Example for Calculating the Academic Performance Rate:


Schools earn "points" for each player eligible at the beginning and end of each semester. For example, a player who is eligible at the beginning and end of each semester during a given academic year earns four "points" (4 for 4). If a player is eligible and is retained after the first semester but does not return for the following fall and is ruled ineligible, his number would be 2 for 4.

Division I basketball teams are allowed a maximum of 13 scholarships. If 11 players at State U. achieve a 4 for 4 and two achieve a 2 for 4 (0 for 2 second term, they were not eligible and were not retained), this team lost four points total based on the performance of these two student-athletes.

The maximum number of points possible would be 52 (13 scholarships x 4 points).

(11 players x 4 for 4 = 44) + (2 players x 2 for 4 = 4) = 48 points. 48/52 equals .923 x 1000 = 923. State U. would then be below the APR cutoff of 925.



Universities get points for each athlete on the team that is academically eligible at the beginning and end of each semester. An athlete that is eligible at the beginning and end of each semester during each academic year gets four points 4 out of 4. If a player is initially eligible and remains eligible after the first semester but does not return for the following fall and is ruled ineligible, the points earned for that athlete would be 2 out of 4.

How the APR Might Effect Wrestling Programs & Recruiting

With the APR, recruiting the “best” athlete could do your program more harm than good.

Regardless of the potential athlete’s performance on the field, the mat or the court, if they become ineligible, not only do you lose their participation, that same athlete could cost the program dearly by contributing to lost scholarships.

Wrestling coaches will probably assume the dual role of admissions officer and talent scout.  If the desired effect of the APR is to increase graduation rates, then coaches and their recruiting staff must weigh the athlete’s performance potential against their graduation potential.

For programs that have fallen below or are dangerously close to the .925 threshold, coaches may opt to recruit some athletes with a higher graduation potential than those who might be more talented.  Only time will tell, but there is an initiative to set aside funds to help under-performing schools get additional counseling on how to meet the higher academic standards required by the APR.

After spending 18 months wading through the college admissions and recruiting process, I can tell you this first hand.  There are two things that colleges must decipher from all the data on a prospective student’s admissions application….

Can they do the required work and will they graduate.

By: Rick Contrata

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