By the strangest and most amazing coincidence, the APR is manipulated such that money-making programs are praised while money-losing programs get sanctioned. In men's basketball, the NCAA threw the book at the likes of Houston Baptist and University of Central Arkansas -- programs that don't generate money for the NCAA. The University of Wisconsin, a men's Final Four team, generating millions for the NCAA, was not sanctioned. Everything is hunky-dory at Wisconsin men's basketball, according to the APR metric. Pay no attention to the Badgers' 44 percent graduation rate.
In football, the NCAA threw the book at the likes of Savannah State and Saint Francis of Pennsylvania. According to the APR, everything's hunky-dory at Division I champion Florida State, where the football graduation rate is 58 percent. The NCAA is silent about football academics at money-making programs -- but the Alcorn State women's volleyball team knew the NCAA's wrath.
Not only does the APR allow the NCAA to maintain the absurd pretense that member schools average an A for athletic academics, it allows colleges to puff up apparent sports-and-classroom achievements. In the SEC, South Carolina wants you to know its football APR hit 980 and offers a photo of handsome young athletes in cap and gown. South Carolina's football graduation rate is 65 percent -- one player in three fails to earn a cap and gown, despite getting five years in college and not having to pay. (Running out of money is the most common reason undergraduates fail to complete degrees.)
This is how the SEC looks by football APR:
Missouri, South Carolina: 980
Mississippi State, Vanderbilt: 974
Texas A&M: 971
LSU, Ole Miss: 946
This is how the SEC looks by football graduation rate:
Georgia, Vanderbilt: 82 percent
Florida: 77 percent
LSU, Missouri, Texas A&M: 74 percent
Alabama: 73 percent
Auburn: 70 percent
South Carolina: 65 percent
Tennessee: 64 percent
Kentucky: 62 percent
Mississippi State: 59 percent
Ole Miss: 55 percent
Arkansas: 54 percent
If the metric is football APR, South Carolina sparkles; if the metric is football graduation, South Carolina is middling. Arkansas barely got above 50 percent by football graduation rate, yet boasts an APR of 935, close to perfection. The SEC APR average is 961 -- that is, the average is an A. The SEC football graduation average is 70 percent -- that is, the average is a C.
The key hocus-pocus of the APR is that it does not measure education, rather, only measures institutional compliance with NCAA minima. At a job interview no employer ever asks, "Did you attend an APR-compliant institution?" The question is, "Did you graduate from college?"
Details of how the NCAA concocted the APR, and its function as a smokescreen for the failings of big-college sports, are in my book " The King of Sports," out in paperback soon. Another fine reading choice is the Football Outsiders Almanac 2014. This annual volume is hands-down no-kidding absolutely-definitively-positively the best independent analysis of the sport.
Outsourcing Outer Space: India launched a Mars mission that cost less than the movie "Gravity."