After understanding for a while now the metrics aren’t exactly apples to apples, the NCAA finally seems ready to address the glaring deficiencies Historically Black College athletic departments face when it comes to the dreaded Academic Progress Rate.
The Academic Progress Rate, more commonly known as the APR in college athletics, measures graduation rates and forces colleges to have their student-athletes degree-tracked and graduating or face the loss of athletic scholarships.
You can see the problem when 33 of 103 schools penalized for the 2009-2010 APR year were HBCUs, according to a report on the NCAA website. That percentage is way too high when you consider the relative small number of Black colleges in the Division I pool.
The reason for the shortcoming is rather simple. It comes down to resources and HBCUs do not have near the resources that the majority of the predominantly white institutions have. Those schools have academic advisors, professional tutors and other infrastructure in place to ensure the success while that support system does not exist on HBCU campuses due to lack of finances.
Those same money issues also place more stress on student athletes at HBCUs because they are sometimes forced to participate in fundraisers to support their respective sports and often the football and basketball teams are forced to travel across country for ridiculous money games to help balance the budget in their athletic departments.
Prairie View A&M president George Wright has seen the difference, having worked on both sides. He spent time teaching at Texas and Duke before taking over at PV eight years ago.
He got to see firsthand the resources available to say a Vince Young at Texas versus the support system available to the student athletes on his campus.
Some white universities have professionals who attend classes with the student athletes, take notes for them and in some extreme cases administer verbal exams to that athlete. There is no such infrastructure in place at most HBCUs.
“We’re talking about resources. Prairie View can’t do that,” Wright said. “I have often speculated about Vince Young, who went to Texas from an inner-city Houston high school. If a kid with the same academic profile as Vince Young went to Prairie View while Vince Young goes to Texas, Vince Young would do better over time because of the resources they can provide.
“Every administrator here at Prairie View has two jobs. That’s part of the problem. Yet, if you look at our graduation rates, our athletes graduate at a higher rate than our other students do. But we often come out of this with a lower APR. We come across as seeming to not do so well with our athletes in the academic sphere.”
The NCAA says it is ready to look into the problem and perhaps leveling the playing field. Exactly what that means and how it will go about making the judging of the APR more fair remains to be seen.