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University of Iowa News Release

June 20, 2005

Professors Develop System For Assessing Division I Academic-Athletic Success

Two sociologists have developed a method for evaluating combined athletic and academic success that they believe will assist recruits in selecting the best school for their needs and disprove the notion that athletic and academic success are mutually exclusive. Details of their method and how it applies to Division I-A football programs appear in the current issue of The Sport Journal,

Jeffrey Lucas, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, and Michael Lovaglia, professor of sociology at the University of Iowa, developed the Student-Athlete Performance Rate (SAPR) as a convenient way for student-athletes to compare athletic programs based on a combination of academic progress and athletic success.

To construct the SAPR, they considered the National Collegiate Athletic Association's first annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores released in February (and updated in May) combined with a number of athletic success indicators including all-time winning percentage; wins, conference championships, bowl appearances and national rankings in the last five years; attendance average; and players in the professional leagues. They computed athletic success by weighing these factors and giving each school a score on a 1,000-point scale, like the APR scale. Then they combined the athletic success score with the NCAA's academic success score to arrive at the 2,000 point SAPR scale.

A website,, currently posts SAPR Scores for colleges and universities in the major conferences for football and men's basketball. Expanded listings for other conferences and women's basketball are expected soon.

"Talented young athletes recruited into major collegiate sports programs must weigh a dizzying array of information before deciding on a school, and sometimes that information can be contradictory," Lucas said. "To make an informed decision, a new recruit should be able to answer two questions. First, which program will provide the best athletic experience, including the most visibility and the best shot at a professional career? And second, which program will provide the best education and opportunities if a pro career does not materialize? The most successful collegiate athletic programs on the football field may not be the ones that do a good job educating their athletes. Until now there has been no way to judge how well a program both educates its players and gives them a chance to succeed on the field."

Ratings are currently available for schools in the major conferences that comprise the Bowl Championship Series: Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, and PAC-10, as well as Notre Dame. The 10 highest ranked schools for combined athletic and academic performance in football are:

1. University of Michigan, 1920
2. University of Miami, 1917
3. Florida State University, 1911   
4. Auburn University, 1903
5. University of Oklahoma, 1897
6. University of Georgia, 1894
7. University of Florida, 1891
8. Boston College, 1890
9. University of Texas, 1882
10. Louisiana State University, 1880

The two professors' universities, Iowa and Maryland, are ranked 12th and 16th, respectively.

Out of the 64 schools in the major conferences, the 10 lowest SAPR scores belong to:

55. Texas A&M University, 1787
56. University of Oregon, 1787
57. University of Alabama, 1785
58. Arizona State University, 1784
59. Mississippi State University, 1768
60. University of Missouri, 1767
61. University of California-Los Angeles, 1765
62. University of Kansas, 1749
63. University of Arizona, 1722
64. Temple University, 1697

"Student-athletes need not forego academic progress to join a top athletic program," Lovaglia said. "It's clear that some football programs such as those at Michigan, Miami and Florida State combine success on the field with strong support for their athletes' education. Others, such as Alabama and UCLA have low SAPR scores despite considerable athletic success."

Not only will the best high school players want to look closely at a collegiate football program's SAPR score before signing up, but coaches also will want to compare their own scores with others when pondering their job security, Lovaglia noted. In the past three years, about two-thirds of the schools at the bottom of the SAPR rankings have seen coaching changes in football.

For additional information, Lucas can be reached in College Park, Md., at 301-405-6435,, and Lovaglia can be reached in Iowa City at 319-335-2494,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Michael Lovaglia, 319-335-2494,; Jeffrey Lucas, 301-405-6435,