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WVU, Marshall stay above APR levels

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia and Marshall have once again cleared the NCAA's yearly academic hurdle.

The organization on Tuesday released its annual Academic Progress Rates data and no teams from either of the state's Division I universities face sanctions of any kind.

With a score of 900 (out of 1,000) required in each sport in order to avoid sanctions that can include scholarship reductions and postseason bans, the average of West Virginia's 17 teams was 973 over the most recent four-year period (2008-09 through 2011-12). Marshall's average of 16 squads was 972. That's a decrease of two points for WVU over the previous four-year average and an increase of four points for Marshall.

The closest any team at the two schools came to the cutoff was West Virginia's baseball team, which has a four-year average of 922, down from a program high of 956 two years ago.

Marshall's men's basketball team, which had a four-year average of 910 last year, went up to 924. That squad's score had dropped each of the previous four years.

West Virginia's lowest score a year ago was a 928 in wrestling. But that is now back up to 945 for a program that in two of the first three years of the APR suffered slight scholarship reductions in 2007 and 2009 for inadequate scores.

Marshall again had the only team among the two schools that recorded a perfect four-year score of 1,000 — women's tennis. Four teams from each school had four-year averages of 990 or better, all in women's sports  — WVU's cross country, gymnastics, indoor track and outdoor track, and Marshall's tennis, soccer, golf and softball.

Seven WVU teams had perfect scores for the 2011-12 school year alone, up from three the previous year — men's basketball, women's basketball, women's cross country, women's gymnastics, women's indoor track and field, women's outdoor track and field and wrestling. Gymnastics had a perfect score the previous year, too, along with rowing and men's soccer. In all, nine of the school's 17 sports have recorded a perfect score within the last two years.

West Virginia's overall 973 average did, however, break a string of four straight years in which its four-year average increased. It had gone from 956 in 2007-08, to 964, 968, 974 and 975 before the slight drop.

Because of that slight drop, WVU is now one point below the national average, which went up a point to 974 this year. Marshall is two points below the average.

Eight of WVU's teams exceeded the national average for their sport — men's basketball and soccer, and women's basketball, cross country, gymnastics, soccer and indoor and outdoor track. At Marshall, six teams did the same — men's cross country and women's softball, golf, soccer, tennis and indoor track.

The APR is calculated based upon continuing eligibility and retention of student-athletes, with each student receiving a possible two points per semester for remaining eligible and in school. Each team's APR score is the total points earned divided by the team's total possible points, multiplied by 1,000.

West Virginia's current four-year scores are: baseball 922, men's basketball 974, women's basketball 985, women's cross country 996, football 950, women's gymnastics 995, rifle 971, women's rowing 981, men's soccer 989, women's soccer 985, men's swimming 972, women's swimming 974, women's tennis 964, women's indoor track 994, women's outdoor track 994, women's volleyball 950 and wrestling 945.

Marshall's current scores are: baseball 945, football 954, men's basketball 924, men's cross country 989, men's golf 977, men's soccer 968, softball 991, women's basketball 934, women's cross country 980, women's golf 993, women's soccer 994, women's swimming 982, women's tennis 1,000, women's indoor track 978, women's outdoor track 973 and volleyball 971.

In the 10-year history of the APR, five WVU teams have been penalized because of low APR scores, but none since the rowing team was hit with scholarship reductions based upon the 2007 and 2009 scores. The men's soccer team also had a minor scholarship reduction based on the 2007 scores, while the wrestling team was docked scholarships after the 2005 and 2007 school year numbers were released.

No Marshall team has ever been handed an APR penalty.

Not all schools came away unscathed, but not a single team from any of the major power conferences was penalized this year.

Florida International's men's basketball team was one of 18 programs sanctioned. That penalty is considered a final hangover from Isiah Thomas' 2009-12 failed coaching tenure.

The team's multi-year average for 2011-12 fell to 858, well below the 900 threshold. The average of the last two readings was no help, as the 2010-11 reading was 909.

That will keep the Panthers out of the Conference USA tournament next March, reducing the field to 15 teams. FIU is one of eight new schools entering the league for 2013-14.

Most of the other penalized schools have significantly more limited resources than top NCAA programs, including 11 historically black schools. Four of those banned are men's basketball squads from the 10-team Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Gazette staff writer Doug Smock and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.


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