Academic Performance Monitoring

Reviewed 8/2023 

UNC uses various measures to monitor student-athletes’ academic progress and success, including Grade Point Average (GPA), Graduation Success Rate (GSR), Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) and Academic Progress Rate (APR). 

The Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group identified and compiled recommendations from reports over the past several years and linked each report recommendation to 21 academic processes. Report Recommendations for Academic Performance Monitoring 

12.0 Academic Performance Monitoring

This process explains what metrics are used to monitor student-athlete academic performance and how these metrics are calculated. 

UNC’s Department of Athletics Strategic Plan strives for a top three academic finish in the conference and a top 10 finish nationally in each sport. Assessment is based on overall academic performance compiled by a variety of measures including Academic Progress Rate (APR), Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and Federal Graduation Rate (FGR). Grade Point Average (GPA) is used as an internal metric for monitoring student-athlete academic performance. Described herein, these metrics each provide insight into a program’s academic performance over different periods of time. For example, APR is a real-time metric, and six-year graduation rates are measured over 4-year cohorts. The Department of Athletics uses each of these metrics to formulate an overall impression of how a team is doing. 

UNC uses the following metrics to monitor athletes’ academic progress and success: 

  1. Graduation Success Rate (GSR)
  2. Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) 
  3. Academic Progress Rate (APR) 
  4. Grade Point Average (GPA) 

UNC uses these metrics to monitor student-athlete academic performance, both individually and by team. This section discusses these metrics and monitoring thereof, as well as steps taken to address poor academic performance. (For more, see the Fall 2023 Academic Scorecard, an annual summary of the academic progress of UNC student-athletes.) 

12.1 Graduation Success Rate (GSR)

GSR is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) metric and the cohort measured includes student-athletes who receive athletics aid in the first year of enrollment at the institution, either as initial enrollees or transfers. The GSR metric is a six-year rate. The GSR differs from the Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) in that schools are not penalized when a student-athlete leaves in good academic standing to transfer to another institution, pursue a professional career or for any other reason and has eligibility remaining. Under the FGR, such departures are counted as failures to graduate from the institution of original enrollment, even if the student later graduates from another institution. 

The NCAA provides a searchable GSR database on its web site. 

12.2 Federal Graduation Rate (FGR)

FGR is reported by the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics as part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). This metric is a six-year rate that includes students who received athletics aid in their first semester of enrollment at UNC excluding spring admits and transfers. The federal graduation rate counts student-athletes who left the University in good standing prior to graduation as non-graduates.  This is also calculated for the student body. 

The NCAA provides a searchable FGR database on its web site. 

12.3 Academic Progress Rate (APR)

APR is an NCAA metric developed to track eligibility and retention of scholarship student-athletes during each academic term. 

The NCAA introduced the APR in 2004 (data was first collected in 2003 and released in 2004) to track the progress of universities in graduating scholarship student-athletes with degrees that will benefit them for life. But APR is not just an indication of academic success for a team; retention or eligibility points also can be lost as a result of other situations, such as team violations and/or code of conduct issues. 

APR is a four-year rate calculation. Each student-athlete in the APR cohort has the ability to earn two points for each regular academic term of full-time enrollment. One point is awarded if the student-athlete is academically eligible to compete the following regular academic term. The other point is awarded if the student-athlete is retained by the institution in the next regular academic term. Student-athletes who graduate will be given both the eligibility and retention points for the term in which they graduate, while those who leave after five years of enrollment (i.e., 10 full-time semesters) without graduating will not earn the eligibility point for their last term of enrollment in that fifth year. At the start of each academic year, each team’s APR is calculated by adding all points earned by student-athletes in the team’s cohort and any delayed-graduation points and dividing that number by the total possible points that could have been earned. The raw APR is multiplied by 1,000 to achieve the final APR. 

UNC can be awarded a delayed graduation point (i.e., “1/0”) for a former student-athlete who left the institution without graduating and returns to the institution and graduates. This point will be awarded to the team’s APR in the academic year (i.e., term) the former student-athlete graduates, provided the former student-athlete meets the following criteria: 

  1. The former student-athlete graduates from UNC in any academic year that comprises the team’s most recent four-year APR, not from another institution.
  2. The former student-athlete cannot satisfy the definition to be included in the team’s APR cohort in the term in which he or she graduated from the institution.
  3. The former student-athlete must have lost either the eligibility or retention point in his or her last term in the APR cohort, or would have lost a point if the student-athlete departed prior to the implementation of the APR in 2003-04. (Note: If the lost eligibility or retention point was adjusted, then no APR point was actually lost, so no delayed-graduation point can be awarded.)

If a student-athlete is academically eligible at the time of departure, the University is provided relief from lost retention points due to the following exceptions:

  • Student-athlete departure to become a professional in their sport (they must leave eligible)
  • Student-athlete departure to transfer immediately and full-time to another four-year university with at least a 2.6 cumulative GPA or to a community college with at least a 3.3 cumulative GPA.

The APR is calculated for each team every academic year. Rates are a cumulation of the past four years’ performance. Teams scoring below a 930 threshold on the multi-year APR can face consequences such as not earning access to postseason competition, practice restrictions and playing season reductions. National aggregates are based on all teams with usable data at the time of analysis.

12.3.1 APR Monitoring

APR points are computed after the census date (10 class days after the start of the semester). The Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) coordinates the submission of data on behalf of the Department of Athletics and the University. The ASPSA reports APR to each coach/team and to the NCAA. APR is due to the NCAA one time per year, eight weeks after the first day of classes in the fall semester. 

ASPSA prepares an APR projection sheet for each team after each semester. Projections are shared with the head coaches so that they can track points and project where the team stands. APR is carefully tracked by each team, by the Department of Athletics and by the NCAA, which asserts that APR is a helpful metric because it can be compared from school to school and from conference to conference. NCAA rules mandate that student-athletes make documented progress toward a degree within a specific timeline (see Process 11.4.4 Continuing Academic Eligibility). If student-athletes do not meet these NCAA mandated requirements, they do not compete. 

The NCAA provides a searchable APR database on its web site. 

12.3.2 APR Improvement Group

In 2013, the Department of Athletics created the APR Improvement Group, which meets once in the summer to discuss teams that have earned a single-year APR below the 930 minimum or a multi-year average below 960. The APR Improvement Group is lead by the Senior Associate Director for Compliance and consists of the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR), the Director of the ASPSA, an Associate Director of ASPSA and another Senior Associate Athletic Director. The Improvement Group meets with coaches and sport supervisors to prepare and review APR Improvement Plans, which include measurable goals, steps to achieve the goals, responsible parties and timeframe for completion. 

The APR Improvement Group conducts an historical review of each team’s APR and works with the coach and the sport supervisor to develop strategies for improvement. 

The NCAA requires an APR Improvement Plan for any team that has an APR multi-year rate below 930. UNC did not have any teams below the minimum so was not required to submit any Improvement Plans to the NCAA. However, UNC has chosen to meet and review respective team APR data with all teams with a new head coach and develop APR Improvement Plans for teams below the institutional benchmark to proactively keep APR rates from falling below the minimum and make corrections as needed. 

12.4 Grade Point Average (GPA)

To calculate grade point average, one must first determine the total quality points earned by multiplying the number of grade points awarded for each course by the course’s assigned number of semester credit hours, and adding the resulting quality points earned for each course. Then the total quality points earned in the term must be divided by the number of semester credit hours attempted (for letter grades) in the term. 

12.4.1 Team GPA Monitoring

The ASPSA sends grade reports for all student-athletes to their respective coaches at the end of each term. Included in this report are student-athletes’ grades for the term, as well as term and cumulative GPAs for both individual students and the entire team. 

The report provides the team GPA breakdown by term and cumulative: 

  • > or = 3.0 
  • Between 2.5 and 2.99 
  • Between 2.0 and 2.49 
  • < 2.0 

The ASPSA has developed a consolidated report for coaches that provides the following metrics: 

  • Team GPA 
  • APR 
  • GSR/FGR 

The report also includes student-athletes with academic honors (e.g., Dean’s List, ACC Honor Roll and all-academic teams, etc.), as well as those who are on academic probation or academically ineligible. 

12.5 NCAA Division I Academic Unit

Beginning with the 2019-20 academic year, the NCAA will distribute a portion of the Division I revenue to member schools based on the academic achievement of student-athletes. Funds will be distributed to conferences to allocate to institutions based on conference policies. The first distribution occurred in spring 2020. 

The Criteria

A school earns an academic unit by meeting any ONE of the three standards:

  1. Division I APR for the previous year is equal to or greater than 985. The average of single-year scores for all teams is used to determine eligibility for this standard.
  2. The Graduation Success Rate for the most recent available year is equal to or greater than 90%.
  3. The difference between the student-athlete and student body percentages in the most recently published Federal Graduation Rate is equal to or greater than 13 percentage points.

12.6 High Impact Educational Opportunities

UNC’s Office of Institutional Research measures and tracks outcomes of student-athlete participation in specific academic interventions such as:

  • My Academic Plan (MAP) – Documents clear goals for student-athlete academic development, articulates ASPSA approaches vis-a-vis these goals, and sets benchmarks and criteria for success. (See Process 7.6 My Academic Plan (MAP) Program).
  • Tutoring – The ASPSA employs more than 90 specially trained tutors who deliver thousands of hours of tutoring to student-athletes each year. (See Process 7.7 Tutoring).

Institutional Research also measures student-athlete participation in high-impact educational opportunities and outcomes thereof (e.g., retention rates, graduation rates, etc.):

  • Global education opportunities
  • First-year seminars
  • Faculty-led research
  • Living-learning communities