MU athletics lead Big 12 in academics

The Athletics Department led the Big 12 Conference in six different sports in this year’s Academic Progress Rate review released by NCAA.

“Leading the Big 12 is an expectation we have,” Athletics Department spokesman Chad Moller said. “We were expecting very good results and we were very pleased.”

The six first-place MU teams are the football, gymnastics, men's swimming, softball, women's golf and women’s swimming teams. MU placed second overall, trailing only Texas, which had 10 first-place sports.

“Obviously, we’re very proud of our student athletes and the way they represent our program and community with their hard work and dedication in the classroom,” said Joe Scogin, assistant athletic director for academic services.

Ten out of 20 MU programs ranked among the Big 12 Conference’s top three overall, and only one sport did not rank above the Division 1 APR average.

Scogin attributes this success to the Athletic Department’s Total Person Program.

“We try to express that our program is a holistic program, a Total Person Program, where everything is linked,” Scogin said. “Our expectations academically fall in line with our expectations athletically. We stress our three core values -- academic success, social responsibility and competitive excellence.”

Both Moller and Scogin said the program begins with recruitment.

“A lot of it starts with the recruiting process,” Moller said. “We want to recruit kids who will help win but also succeed academically and fulfill our core values.”

The Total Person Program includes many programs and opportunities for student athletes, such as seminars to teach positive study habits.

“We start with foundational skills to make them good people,” Scogin said. “These skills translate into a good balance of academic, athletic and social life.

Scogin said that balance between the three areas is the key to developing strong student athletes.

"If a student doesn’t take one area seriously, all areas are impacted," he said. "You can’t give 10 percent in academics and expect the resulting problems not to affect your performance on the field, and vice versa.”

MU’s success this year is a continuation of past years. Scogin said that MU came in second place last year as well and has led the Big 12 five of the last seven years.

“It’s no longer just staff and coaches stressing the importance of academic success; it is the student athletes themselves,” Scogin said. “They have a culture among themselves that includes expectations to succeed and represent our community well. These expectations include long term goals such as graduate school and professional careers. It has become an intrinsic motivation.”

Developed by the NCAA in 2004, the APR review is designed to measure the academic progress and performance of participating schools. The athletic programs are awarded points when a student athlete remains academically eligible for competition and returns to the institution the following semester or graduates. The current numbers are an average over the last four years, with a maximum of two points per student per semester.

The highest average possible is 1000 and was achieved by the MU gymnastics and women's golf teams. The women’s swimming and diving and softball teams had near perfect scores of 998 and 997, respectively. MU’s football program had a score of 967, and the men’s swimming and diving team received a score of 989.

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