KNOXVILLE – In the midst of a busy week of quarterback news and the Vols prepping for a trip to No. 10 Missouri, Tennessee got some of its most encouraging news of the year.
After a few nervous months dealing with recent low Academic Progress Rates (APR), coach Butch Jones confirmed that the Vols have been informed by the NCAA that they have reached a qualifying score from the 2012-13 academic year that will keep them clear of any NCAA sanctions.
“It directly affects recruiting, it affects our football program and it’s something that we’ve been dealing with for a long time,” Jones said. “I think it’s probably one of the greatest victories we’ve had in Tennessee football.”
The APR, now in its ninth year, measures the eligibility and retention of scholarship student-athletes competing on every Division I athletics team, measuring progress toward degree while also serving as a predictor of graduation success.
Coaching change and attrition from the program have contributed to UT’s low scores in the football program over the past few years. With 1,000 being the maximum score, the Vols scored a 909 for the 2011-12 year. That score, combined with lower scores in the previous years, put UT in danger of NCAA sanctions if that number wasn’t improved in 2012-13.
For the 2014-15 championships, teams must earn a 930 four-year average APR or a 940 average over the most recent two years to participate in championships, according to the NCAA’s official website.
Jones didn’t have the full set of data for UT, but did confirm that the football program scored a perfect 1,000 for the spring semester and that the total score for the year would be enough to avoid any NCAA issues.
Though the full data will come out next spring, Jones felt compelled to share the news with the media on Tuesday for recruiting purposes.
“This is an issue since Day 1 that we walked in here as a coaching staff that opponents have used against us in the recruiting process,” Jones said. “There’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of effort from individuals behind the scenes that have made this come to fruition. I tell you what, I’m extremely proud.
“I don’t want to underestimate or undervalue that because that is monumental in our football program moving forward.”
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga