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UCLA: 4th Seed in Tourney, Bottom Third for Academics, Says Report

The school ties Louisiana-Lafayette for 46th, says a report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

Twitter photo from UCLA Basketball.
Twitter photo from UCLA Basketball.
By STEVEN HERBERT
City News Service

Two-thirds of the 68 teams in the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament have higher Academic Progress Rates than UCLA, according to a study released Monday.

The Bruins' Academic Progress Rate is 951, tying Louisiana-Lafayette for 46th, according to "Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Rates and Academic Progress Rates for the 2014 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Teams," a study conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, based on figures reported by the NCAA.

Kansas was the only team with a perfect score of 1,000. Duke, Louisville, Memphis and Michigan all had rates of 995. Connecticut had the lowest score, 897.

UCLA was one point ahead of three teams -- Mount St. Mary's, Saint Louis and Stephen F. Austin -- and two ahead of Tulsa, its opponent in its tournament-opening game Friday, and Iowa State.

The teams just ahead of UCLA were St. Joseph's and Iowa, both with rates of 953.

UCLA showed an improvement from last season when its Academic Progress Rate of 942 was the 11th lowest in the tournament.

The Academic Progress Rate was created by the NCAA in 2004 in an effort to more accurately measure student-athletes' progress and improve graduation rates. It is a four-year average of academic performance that rewards student-athletes for remaining eligible as well as continuing education at the same school.

Every player receiving an athletic scholarship earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. A team's total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to determine the Academic Progress Rate.

One factor in UCLA's Academic Progress Rate is that at least 15 players have left the team since 2008, the most recent year it reached the Final Four.

"There are a number of extenuating circumstances that can impact an APR," Christina Rivera, the UCLA's Athletic Department's director of academic and student services told City News Service.

"We take the word student in student-athlete as seriously as any university in the country and when the 2012-13 APR gets released in May, it will rise to 969. That climb is consistent with our overall GSR, which continues to rise year-over-year and currently stands at 87, second best in the Pac-12 Conference, behind only Stanford.

"It should go without saying, but we as administrators are as proud of our student-athletes' performance in the classroom as we are of their athletic accomplishments." 

The students who leave an institution in good academic standing before graduating are not counted in calculating the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate, which also credits students for graduating from schools they transfer to, unlike the Federal Graduation Rate complied by the U.S. Department of Education.

Forward David Wear praised UCLA in an interview Sunday for its its academic services for athletes whose team schedules often force them to miss classes. 

"UCLA has so many resources to help its athletes out," said Wear, who received his degree in June, majoring in political science, and is continuing to take enough classes to remain eligible to play.

"The academic advisers always make sure we have a printout of what we need to take care of and we have tutors and mentor sessions to keep us on track with anything. They don't allow us to get behind." 

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