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April 24, 2016

Pitt Sports Academics on the Rise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Reed @ 8:34 am

From the Pitt Media Department:

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh athletic programs posted strong numbers in the most recent measurement of the Academic Progress Rate, as scores were released by NCAA Wednesday afternoon. Division I student-athletes across the country continue to make gains in the classroom, earning all-time high results in the APR.

“As a whole, we are pleased with the level of progress we have made in our APR scores during the most recent reporting cycle,” said Athletic Director Scott Barnes. “An overwhelming majority of our programs showed an increase in scoring and we have a terrific plan in place to continue that growth. Seven of our teams posted their best scores since the APR was introduced and we are going to use that positive momentum to keep building on our already strong academic profile.”

Pitt had 13 of its 17 programs perform at or above the national average, including the women’s tennis team that posted a perfect 1000 for the second straight year and the fourth time overall since the start of the APR. Other programs performing at or above the national average were men’s swimming & diving, women’s cross country, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s swimming & diving, women’s basketball, softball, wrestling, women’s track & field, men’s cross country, men’s soccer and football.

Pitt’s scores were at or above last year’s marks for 15 of 17 programs, with women’s volleyball showing the largest jump of +22 for a score of 995. The men’s basketball team dropped five points from last year’s perfect 1000 but still finished well above the national average of 964 for the sport. Four programs – women’s volleyball, men’s swimming & diving, baseball and men’s cross country – showed double-digit growth in APR scores.

The Panthers placed in the upper part the ACC in nine sports with women’s tennis ranking tied for first with the perfect score. Wrestling was second among ACC schools with a 987, while men’s basketball (995) and men’s swimming & diving (997) were tied for third.

In total seven programs – men’s cross country, football, men’s swimming & diving, wrestling, women’s cross country, softball and tennis – registered their top APR scores.

Nationally, the 2014-15 overall four-year rate is 979, up one point from the previous year’s mark. Three-point improvements in men’s and women’s basketball and football all contributed to that increase. Men’s basketball teams earned a 964 (up from 961), women’s basketball teams earned a 978 (up from 975) and football teams earned a 959 (up from 956).

Every Division I sports team across the nation calculates its APR each academic year, similar to a report card. Scholarship student-athletes each semester earn one point for remaining eligible and one point for staying in school or graduating. As tracked through the APR, more than 14,000 former college athletes have returned to school to get their degrees since the NCAA created the measurement tool. Each of those students earns back a lost APR point for their team. More than 7,500 competed in baseball, men’s basketball, football and women’s basketball – the highest-profile sports in college athletics. Each of those graduates earned APR points for their team.

Rates are an average of each school’s performance for the last four years. National aggregates are based on all teams with usable data at the time of analysis. APRs for each team, lists of teams receiving public recognition and those receiving sanctions are available online through the NCAA’s searchable database.

Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2005 – 2006 948
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2006 – 2007 945
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2007 – 2008 944
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2008 – 2009 950
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2009 – 2010 949
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2010 – 2011 955
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2011 – 2012 962
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2012 – 2013 961
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2013 – 2014 963
Football University of Pittsburgh PA 2014 – 2015 970

Say what you will about Paul Chryst’s head coaching abilities but the rise in the football teams APR along with the steep and dramatic decline in player arrests and disciplinary actions needed is obvious.  That is part and parcel of what he was hired at Pitt to do after the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Let’s hope Pat Narduzzi can carry this forward as it appears he has been doing.  It has been a long time since Pitt players were in the news for negative reason or that a player has been sat down due to academic reason and I applaude Narduzzi for that.

I love Pitt and the football program and when I see progress like this on all fronts – including an 8-5 season – it makes me feel that this is how the University should be represented.

Here is the link to the conference standings for APRs – you’ll have to do some digging so here are some highlights:

Duke is #1 with a 995 APR; Florida State is last with a 945; Pitt is in the middle of the pack at 970 and our closest neighbor is Virginia Tech at 974.





FSU last, what a shock. PSU lower? Keep studying guys a pro career is not guarenteed and not just because of talent. How many days to fall camp? HAIL TO PITT.

Comment by rkb 04.24.16 @ 9:37 am

Espn ranks the top 100 players of the draft

33. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh, 6-1 ½, 197 (4.58)

“Boyd is a front-line receiver who was an all-conference selection as a returner. He also played some running back. He catches anything close and knows how to create room. He had a DUI arrest in June.”

Comment by panther94 04.24.16 @ 10:30 am

I love the scores but I’d definitely sacrifice points for wins. Low risk = low return which pretty much sums up Paul Chryst to a tee. I don’t care what you guys say … Pitt hit rock bottom so there was no where to go but up. The program needed some purging but Chryst over-purged and under-recruited resulting in not enough athletes to compete with the upper echelon in the ACC.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.24.16 @ 10:32 am

Good stuff Reed. Thanks

Comment by steve1 04.24.16 @ 10:41 am

2tossing, I can tell you with 100% ceertainty that the administration was completely satisfied with the purge, wheter fans liked it or not.

But what the above shows me is that you can win games with actual student/athletes.

Narrduzzi did it last year with inherited Chrsyst recruits and wexll see if that ntinues.

Personally I think it takes a bit more digging to find recuits that are intelligent. The vast majority of Pitt recruits are 3* and 2* kids, that won’t change a lot, and there are a ton out there who meet both criteria.

If Pitt can do both, win and keep tha APR rising, I’ll be very happy.

Comment by Reed 04.24.16 @ 10:59 am

BTW – 6-7 is not rock bottom at all. Rock bottom were those 2, 3 and 4 win teams of the ’90s.

When you are talking about A 7-6 team like in 2013 vs 8-5 team like last season that is easily one bad bounce or a minor thing.

Now going fron something like 3-8 to 8-5 that is a world of difference.

Comment by Reed 04.24.16 @ 11:05 am

^^^doing this on a phone and it sucks… but you get my thoughts.

Comment by Reed 04.24.16 @ 11:07 am

Reed – yes, because the previous administration was terrible for football so that’s not a surprise. I do believe there is a right way to win but to be competitive you have to take some chances even it means a bit of a hit to the APR.

Graham had purged the bad seeds and the natural attrition from Chryst coming on board would have been enough. Graham is a sham but his current ASU team has a 990 APR in comparison to Pitt’s 970. I trust his initial purge would have been suffice.

Instead, Chryst ripped and replaced the core recruits and athletes from the program in the name of character … setting Pitt back years. As we all witnessed last year, Pitt does not have the athletes to compete for a championship in the ACC. In fact, this year may be a little worst before PN’s players start filling out the starting roster.

That’s on Chryst. As we saw this past offseason, kids will come to Pitt when there is an effort made towards recruiting.

Btw, Pitt’s national reputation was lower after the Wanny-Haywood-Graham fiasco than at any point during the 90’s. I was at Pitt in the 90’s so I speak from experience. Pitt had fallen of the radar by that point and it was a non-story. Pitt had been in slow decline for over a decade. Pitt’s collapse from winning 10 games and being a program on the rise to being on the cover of SI was pretty epic. What happened from there was pure comedy gold.

… And by win with actual student athletes, you mean keep your head above water. 6,7 and 8 win seasons isn’t really winning.

College football has never been about student athletes. That ideal that you hold for football doesn’t exist nor has it ever. Major college football has always been about the game and the kids and the money … not the academics. Pitt’s golden era wasn’t about academics … it was about winning.

The great coaches are credited with building character but they still won … and by won I don’t mean 6,7 and 8 games. Winning still came first. Graduating players was a by-product of a good coach. Just something else to justify a statue for the coach after he leaves.

It’s why the NCAA is such a sham and their defense of “amateurism” is so bogus. It’s an ideal that is tossed out there to protect an illegal business practice. I mean, really, these student athletes are capped at a scholarship for their earnings? Name one other practice out there in America where you can legally cap the earnings of someone? By offering a scholarship, doesn’t that automatically nix the term amateurism? And then to the cap them at a scholarship? Such a joke. Not saying a school should pay athletes but they have a right to use their name for profit. That’s for sure.

… and there is a shift from a vast majority of recruits being 2 and 3 star players to the vast majority being 3 and 4 star players … which is huge. You saw it this year and 2017 will be even better. Pitt will take some chances on 2 star players but there won’t be an abundance of them. And a lot more of the 3 star players were borderline 4 star players being recruited by big name college football schools.

I get it, you have a cynical attitude towards Pitt football and Pitt athletics in general but I refuse to believe where Pitt currently is and where Wanny took them 5 years ago is not where Pitt can peak.

You may enjoy the ebbs and flows of 6,7 and 8 win seasons but as a major contributor for the biggest Pitt blog and ace writer for football it’s also almost sociopathic. You stated a couple of articles ago that you’d rather not win year in and year out like Alabama and that you enjoy the ups and downs of a average season … all at the expense and agony of your readers. It’s not funny watching us twist in the wind each year. And if you think it’s funny, then it’s a little sick.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.24.16 @ 1:49 pm

Lighten up Tossing. I have my opinions and you have yours. You are taking all of this way too seriously. But I’ll say that only you can read the positive article I wrote above and somehow twist things around so that I’m a sociopath. Is that because I put Pitt football in its proper place in my life and don’t “twist in the wind” like you do?

Let me tell you something in all honesty – when the day comes that I don’t find following Pitt football fun and entertaining in all it’s aspects, is the day you won’t see another word from me on here or elsewhere. I will never let what is my hobby get in the way of how I want to live my life. I never stress out about something that happens in the program – aside from a death or serious injury/illness – and I take a interest but it doesn’t really bother me all that much.

Conner’s health – yes! Boyd’s draft pick number – not so much.

I used to do that, stress out about Pitt football, on the message boards and on here years ago when I was still working and I invested way too much emotional energy on it. But now it has it’s rightful place in my life and mind.

Especially in my retirement. People are astounded when I say that I don’t get paid anything for doing the writing I do on here – you should see their faces when I tell that that and then when I say the minute Chas wants me to take money for this, for whatever purpose, is another reason to stop doing it.

I worked my ass off from the time I was 16 years old until I was 55 when I retired from one of the most stressful jobs there is, that being a Search and Rescue Planner, and I will not be beholden to anyone, other than my family and very closest friends. Pitt football is not life and death and believe me I know the difference.

So you see that I mean it when I say I enjoy all the different things that go on in the program. I am interested in the great plays, the great players who work hard and when we get wins – but I also keep Pitt football on a human level first and foremost. That why I write the way I do – “Pitt football warts and all”.

But don’t confused all the above in thinking I don’t care about Pitt football, the players, staff and admin – I sure do. I just don’t let their problems became my problems. I care deeply about the University I love way more than I care about wins on a football field…

That is why I said if Pitt had to cheat to win a championship it will be dead to me. But here’s the best part – I can pick and choose things that are important in my life and Pitt football is just one of many things I enjoy. Stack up a great play with actors I admire and that I have been dying to see in a theater and a Pitt football game and I might not show up at Heinz Field – there is always a DVR for that.

A lecture by the Juan Felipe Herrera, the Poet Laureate of the US? – I might skip the trip to PGH.

I think that is part of the difference between you and me – I write about what has and is happening, good bad and indifferent and you concentrate on where we ‘could go’. I write about what is and you get angry because I don’t think or write about what could possibly happen in the future as far as championships go.

I like the here and now and what brought it to this point – apparently you dream of Pitt winning every game no matter the cost.

There is a cow-town close by who’s fans have been like that for decades and look at the culture that created. Again, if Pitt can’t keep an eye on high levels of both academics, player behavior and playing the actual games then I think there is something drastically wrong.

I want the dog to wag the football tail, not the other way around.

So – you have your thoughts and I have mine. I suggest that when you lower yourself to name calling, especially with someone who is writing about what interests and what he feels interests the readers, all you do is make your own points less viable.

Let’s agree to disagree…

Comment by Reed 04.24.16 @ 2:56 pm

Reed – first, I’ve never questioned your fandom. Two, If I didn’t appreciate your contributions I wouldn’t read your articles …but I do. You write from a cynical POV so you’re going to get debated some times. Your article was fine and dandy until you brought up Chrsyt. I simply disagree with that and I think Graham having a higher APR than Pitt takes away some of argument and myth that Chryst had to continue purging the roster to the extent he did. It had already been done. Plus as you can read above I think student-athlete is a bogus way for the NCAA to continue to perpetuate an illegal activity. It’s a nice idea but it hasn’t been that way since before Bear Bryant dominated the scene.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.24.16 @ 3:20 pm

And I don’t condone cheating. In fact, in my first paragraph of the previous article I said I believe that there is a right way to win … I just believe you have to take chances. And I don’t believe in using APR as an excuse for not winning and hiding behind the guise of “right way”. Those chances you take on kids and in life often times turn out to be the best stories too.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 04.24.16 @ 3:28 pm

I just want to win. If that means playing fair, playing in the gray areas and sacrificing some GPA, I’m all for that. Got to at least attend class (more often than not), pass (what is passing these days…a C) and stay out of major trouble. That isnt difficult with most athletes. I’d hate to create something called the ‘Pitt way’ because the CULT out East had their own Grand Experiment and we all saw how that failed in an epic way. But the phuckin NCAA creates a very bad culture. They care only about MONEY. Could care less for educating these kids and for many its their first real education. College football is a minor league system for the pros. If student athletes are being asked to be students (which I agree they should), then the athlete should be entitled to some of the money that these schools make for the sake of dear old alma mater. That was a tangent.

Comment by TX Panther 04.24.16 @ 4:11 pm

I will gladly debate these types of scores with anybody. Look, the NCAA as an institution is a scam. USNews & World Reports is a scam. They started out with good intentions, but the academics, with a slant towards administration, quickly realized all things can be manipulated. APR is no different.

When compliance folks need to try and measure something, that something is amiss in the first place. Unfortunately, higher ed is big business first.

Not dogging you on this Reed. Rather, I am mocking the administration that puffs out their respective chests and hides behind numbers that just don’t matter. Sorry to my Pitt brethren, but if you look at these things objectively, the premise in and of itself is based on a flawed system. Research misconduct is right up there next to academic misconduct. Both generate 100’s of millions of dollars. Both have skilled compliance departments that make up measurement criteria produced solely to mislead the general public and legislators.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 04.24.16 @ 4:21 pm

Let’s just call it for what it is. A minor league system for the pros. Their payment is a free education and meals. But it’s tough to call them students when many don’t associate with the student body, athletes are housed in separate dorms, have separate mess halls, have special tutors, take special curriculums, etc, etc. it’s a sham. Reporting of grades just tries to level the playing field by imposing minimum standards. And is all about perception and perpetuating a myth. But schools who take academics seriously as well as athletes, will seldom compete for championships. These kids are semi pro athletes so pay them.

Comment by TX Panther 04.24.16 @ 4:42 pm

Football is a sport akin to boxing.

The Ivy League is banning preseason tackling.

If you really care about our STUDENT athletes the Ivy League is where they belong.

Otherwise this he said/he said is a crock.

Comment by steve1 04.24.16 @ 4:43 pm

Those schools are the Ivy leagues and military academies

Comment by TX Panther 04.24.16 @ 4:44 pm

Want a higher ranking with usnews, higher a bunch of lecturer’s for a semester before the surveys are filled out. That will lower the student teacher ratio and you will score better. Need post graduate jobs, higher the graduates at your school for 6 months. Everyone gets a job and your rankings escalate. It’s a crock because there is too much money involved.

Ask a business school how many of their graduates have a job, in their respective fields that don’t work for the university and the numbers are different. Look, I am not angry about this. It is part of the business that is flawed. Need to call it what it is. These compliance people drive me nuts. They have created a cottage industry for themselves. Foolish BOT folks. Put your head and the sand and guess which body part sticks out…

Comment by dhuffdaddy 04.24.16 @ 5:33 pm

Reed, Holy Cow! I read the post and felt proud to be a both an alumnus and a huge fan of Pitt. I enjoy reading your posts and hope to meet you in person some day to personally shake your hand. The fact that you then have to spend time answering to posters who have nothing better to do than put a ridiculous spin on things makes me sick. Seriously, our kids are achieving at such a high level is a great thing for Pitt and we all should be proud of this; not use it as an excuse to bitch and complain.
Keep up the great work Reed and don’t let the bullcrap get to you.

Comment by Jeff in CPa 04.24.16 @ 7:07 pm

Interesting FB concussion study.

link to thinkprogress.org

Comment by Frank MD 04.24.16 @ 7:20 pm

Rock bottom were those Majors 2 years. But we’ve been mediocre at best since. We either get serious about winning, or become a whipping boy with an occasional upset to brag about.

Getting serious means lowering that GPA and maybe experiencing some ‘boys will be boys’ issues. Its a matter of trade-offs. Now our GPA could be maintained if basket weaving was a legit course. I dont expect Pitt to recruit choir boys. Courses like basket weaving occurred during Joe Pa’s days as well as covering up the youthful transgressions of players. Joe got very good at covering up things and turning a blind eye. What the public saw was what He wanted you to see.

Much more difficult to do in a City and in a university with controls and checks in place to prevent abuse and where there is no dictator and where Football is not GOD worshiped by the CULT.

Just face it…sports at Pitt will never be taken as serious as some schools. Thats fine by me. Its entertainment, bragging rights and a nice front porch. Its not something that defines alum or fans of Pitt.

But lets not forget that its a huge money making machine. And money corrupts.

Comment by TX Panther 04.24.16 @ 7:26 pm

re: QB2 Controversy. Anybody remember this guy:

link to espn.go.com

Comment by Atlanta Panther 04.24.16 @ 8:02 pm

Interesting read. My apologies if already posted.

link to campusrush.com

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 04.24.16 @ 9:41 pm

Reed….great article but I really don’t care. The only thing i care about is being 1 point better than the cult on 9/10!

Comment by Dan 72 04.24.16 @ 10:56 pm

It is very nice to see smart hard working athletes but it is a conundrum. The stereotype says you need big strong dumb athletes to win (at least a few). Hence the problem, Can you have great programs without bending the rules? All of the sanctions on Championship teams at least indicates a correlation between bad behavior and winning.

So how much of your ethics are you willing to compromise in waiving academic requirements or outright cheating like paying for athletes under the table?

If everyone is doing it, is it really cheating? Will UNC have to give their Championship trophies back?

PSU got all their wins restored.Most of their fans don’t seem to care that they covered up the behavior of a pedophile for years.

Pitino is still coaching at Louisville, Boeheim at Syracuse.

Can you win playing by the rules if you are not Duke? Even Notre Dame has had their scandals.

Really difficult questions.

Comment by gc 04.25.16 @ 7:31 am

Frank, the concussion issue is a whole nuther discussion. The NFL has finally admitted that Football causes CTE. What happens when Universities start getting sued for millions/billions? What are the ethical issues?

Comment by gc 04.25.16 @ 7:36 am

Glad to see the student athletes at Pitt are doing well. There is no negative side to having good scores.

Comment by notrocketscience 04.25.16 @ 8:17 am

It is simply a study that is looking for better ways to protect players.

Comment by Frank MD 04.25.16 @ 8:18 am

Is there an acceptable level of concussions in sports? The NFL has probably the most potential for concussions and also has the deepest pockets and the most money available to settle lawsuits. This is another case of greedy lawyers gong for a big payday.

Comment by Grizzly1 04.25.16 @ 8:28 am

gc, All of the above parties stated in your posting took their cues from the our great politicians. But instead of deferring blame to the media, they deflected blame to the NCAA.

The NCAA certainly has its issues, mainly the their investigative group is underfunded and they have no power of subpoena … but the fact is that if these schools played by the rule, the NCAA wouldn’t have o investigate them.

But the gist of your message is correct … the Louisvilles, Cuses and PSUs of the world continue to thrive .. not only on the field or courts but especially in the pocketbook.

Comment by wbb 04.25.16 @ 8:40 am

On concussions, I can’t believe they can’t design a helmet that will provide way better protection and prevent concussions.

I think the issue is that the padding on such a helmet will be kind of large and it won’t look “cool” and so the players and the league won’t want it.

But one day, a football game will look like a contest between aliens from outer space…

Go Pitt.

Comment by MajorMajors 04.25.16 @ 9:06 am

how about this? Kevan Smith may not have had a good career as a Pitt QB (07), but he just got called up by the White Sox.

Good for him

Comment by wbb 04.25.16 @ 9:21 am

Comment by wbb 04.25.16 @ 9:22 am

Somewhat ironic that you mention the need for improved helmets.

Below the link to the company where returning Pitt Radio Analyst Bill Osborn has his day job.

Check out link to vicis.co

Comment by PittofDreams 04.25.16 @ 10:45 am

GET REAL CLLED UP 4 WHAT TO SIT ON THE BENCH AND THEN GET RELEAED FOR WHAT I HOPE HE DOES WELL BUT I WONT HOLD MY BREATH HE WAS THE BIGGEST LOSER PITT EVER SIGNED JUST MY OPINION

Comment by Boo Boo #1 04.25.16 @ 8:49 pm

Guys, here is some interesting stuff. The big time programs are putting chips in the uniforms that measure impact of hits, speed of a player in the 1st quarter versus the 4th. It is amazing technology. It is woven into the uniforms. Totally cool stuff.

As an example, a tackler on the kickoff team runs at 16 mph in the first quarter and runs 12 mph in the 4th. All things being equal, he has a conditioning issue. The coach can sit that player out in the 4th knowing he is gassed. It is a competitive advantage. The big programs use the technology which also uses sensors.

They also measure impact, ability to react from snap count, etc. It is all about information and is quite amazing. Technology, technology, technology.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 04.25.16 @ 11:04 pm

APR is a total, complete farce. Look at UNC for proof. Numerous scandals… football program last on probation in 2012, 3 coaches admitted to cheating yet has never improved its APR and the head coach is telling recruits not to worry about probation because it won’t hit football.

UNC football deserves the death penalty – or something very close to it.

Comment by JohnRamella 04.27.16 @ 10:54 am

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