Oversigning and APR

One of the biggest complaints about oversigning is that student athletes get shuffled through the program and they don't get the chance to complete their degree.  Players are sold the prospect of a college degree, and then have it taken from them.  Sites like oversigning.com accuse the SEC of using up these athletes and leaving them behind.

Luckily, the NCAA measures this sort of thing.  The Academic Progress Rate (APR) rewards schools for keeping players in school and academically eligible.  If teams oversign and keep forcing guys from school, as oversigning advocates accuse, then it would certainly show up in the APR numbers, right?  That teeming mass of players done wrong by the SEC's evil practices would result in a low APR.  In fact, it would cost a program twice, as a player staying in school and academically eligible is worth two points.  If a player is forced to transfer, the program loses two points.  I don't think APR is perfect, but it would be hard to hide a mass exodus of players failing to graduate, the kind of corruption oversigning.com accuses SEC teams of.

In fact, oversigning.com explicitly endorses using APR.  To quote his tweet from yesterday:

Anyone notice a connection between good APR numbers and non-oversigning coaches?

I hate to inject actual facts into the oversigning debate, but if we're going to have this debate, the least we can do is be truthful.  Is there a connection between good APR and not oversigning?  So, how did the Big Ten, defenders of the student athlete, do in comparison to the unethical SEC? 

SEC

Big Ten

Vandy - 977

Northwestern - 993

Georgia - 976

Ohio St - 985

Florida - 976

Penn St- 972

LSU - 966

Wisconsin - 967

Bama - 963

Indiana - 966

USC - 954

Illinois - 949

Miss State - 952

Iowa - 947

Kentucky - 948

Purdue - 939

Auburn - 940

Michigan St - 938

Ole Miss - 939

Minnesota - 935

Tennessee - 937

Michigan - 928

Arkansas - 937

First, Northwestern's APR is absurd.  Well done.  It's hard not to admire that.

Now, a 925 APR costs a team a scholarship, which gives us a clear line of what is unacceptable.  The only school to come close to that is Michigan.  But no school in either conference is facing a scholarship penalty for its APR.  It seems any claim that the SEC is just churning through players and systematically forcing them out of school is not backed up by the numbers.  Or, at the very least, not the APR numbers.

How does the "average" school do?  Using Northwestern or Michigan as the standard of the entire Big Ten seems rather unfair.  Well, the mean SEC team has an APR of 955.4.  The mean Big Ten team? 956.3.  The "average" Big Ten school has an APR  a mere point higher than the SEC, if we calculate average by the mean.  If we calculate the average by the median APR, we get slightly different results.  The median Big Ten school scores a 949 while the median SEC school scores a 953.  That's right, folks.  The SEC has a higher median APR than the Big Ten.

Part of the "oversigning" argument is the inherent snobbery of the Big Ten, looking their noses down at those dumb hicks in the SEC.  In fact, one of the big themes of conference realignment was the SEC's supposed shoddy academics while the Big Ten was all about its academics.  Remember Big Ten fans flogging their AAU affiliation? 

Hey, that's how conference trash talking goes.  But the recent APR report shows just hollow those taunts really are.  SEC football programs do just as good of a job on the academic side as the Big Ten, if the APR is to be believed.  One cannot look at these numbers and state that the Big Ten cares about academics and the SEC doesn't.  More than anything, I'm tired of the SEC hates academics argument.  It is insulting and we shouldn't take anyone who makes that argument seriously. 

Maybe SEC schools are churning through players, and leaving in their wake the shattered dreams of scores of former players.   But it certainly doesn't show up in the APR numbers.  It seems the SEC is doing pretty much the same job as the Big Ten in taking care of the academic progress of its players. 

If the argument is, as some oversigning advocates would have you believe, they are only interested in protecting the student-athlete, well, I've gotta ask...  Why isn't the harm to the student athlete showing up in the objective measurement created by the NCAA?

Anyone else notice the lack of any connection between good APR numbers and a team's roster management practices? 

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