« Queen Visits The States | Main

University Student-Athletes in Academic Danger

The University of Minnesota’s academic performance met NCAA requirements on Thursday but decreasing performance in men’s basketball and football are particularly distressing for university officials.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Dennis Brackin. This story reported that a large amount of teams were penalized for their academic performance.

A total of 112 teams -- none in the Big Ten -- were penalized Wednesday when the NCAA announced its latest APR scores, which measure student eligibility and retention within programs.

The story reported that the university’s academic performance over the last three years in men’s basketball and football were under the mandated NCAA guidelines. The story was actually able to successful quantify how poor the university’s basketball program was.

The university's 887 rate for men's basketball -- compiled under former coach Dan Monson -- was the lowest for any Big Ten program. But the university escaped the penalty of losing scholarships because they fell within a margin of error.

This story reported that the success of football and baseball are increasing while men’s basketball is decreasing because of retention issues. The story said that the university would have to fill out a plan of change in order to meet with success in these two sports. The story did report that there were some positives to be taken out of this report.

Men's basketball and football were the only programs at Minnesota below 925, although wrestling was close to the minimum with a 927. Seventeen of Minnesota's 25 sports ranked at or above the national APR average for their respective Division I sports.

I think that the biggest issue with this story was making it interesting to non-university readers while making sure that the story is objective rather than defaming the basketball or football players as all poor students. I’m sure that not all of these student-athletes are as poor academically as this story and the report might lead the reader to believe.

A second version of the story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Ray Richardson. This story reported much of the same information that the university was not very successful when it came to the academics of football and men’s basketball. This story cut right to the chase to tell the reader exactly what could happen if the scores don’t increase in the coming year.

Failure by the two programs to improve APR scores over the next academic year could result in the loss of scholarships.

This story reported a much more detailed account of how the APR scores are tallied.

Student-athletes earn one point for each semester they are enrolled and one point for each semester they are eligible for intercollegiate competition. The APR is calculated by taking the number of possible points for a sport during the three-year period and dividing that number by the total number of points earned from eligibility and retention.

I felt that both of these stories were pretty well written but that both of them had traces of sarcasm and could have been written more objectively. Personally, I feel that the majority of coverage of college athletic academics is usually negative. The student-athletes that I know actually do work very hard on their studies and try to prove that they belong here in the class room. I felt the Brackin version was slightly more detailed and that I preferred this detail over the brevity of the Richardson version. Therefore, I preferred the Brackin version although I would accept the Richardson version as a substitute.