Alabama and Louisville are performing almost as well in the classroom as they do on the playing field.
On Wednesday, the reigning national champs in the two most visible college sports made the NCAA’s honor roll for academic success. Louisville was one of 35 men’s basketball teams to score between 978 and 1,000 on the annual Academic Progress Rate. Alabama was one of 13 Bowl Subdivision schools to make the cut.
In all, 976 teams made the most recent list that covered the four-year period ending in 2011-12. Alabama won the national championship then, too, and Louisville reached the Final Four. Actual scores for each school will be released Tuesday.
The most telling signal of progress may be this: 10 national champs were honored Wednesday. The other winners were Alabama in men’s golf, Duke in men’s lacrosse, Indiana in men’s soccer, Georgia in men’s swimming, Michigan in men’s gymnastics, Oregon in women’s indoor track, Texas in women’s volleyball and Yale in men’s ice hockey,
The APR is billed as a real-time academic measure of every Division I team.
Each athlete receives one point per semester for remaining academically eligible and another point each semester for remaining at that school or graduating. Critics contend the numbers merely illustrate the growing disparity between the haves, who can afford fancy academic facilities and large support staffs, and the have-nots, who lack the means to give their athletes more help.
The latest list includes college athletes excelling in both areas.
Louisville posted a score of 965 in three of the previous four APR releases, while Alabama has seen its scores steadily improve from 916 in 2004-05 to 942, 944, 955 and 957.
The Crimson Tide are now on a list that includes Duke, Northwestern and Stanford.
"It’s fantastic," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "We pride ourselves on having a great program where we do a good job of personal development with our players. The thing that’s most important about what our players do while they’re at the University of Alabama is graduate from school and develop a career off the field. To see that we’re one of the however many teams in the country that have one of the highest APRs, I think that speaks volumes for the commitment that we have to academics and the standard of excellence to help our players have the best opportunity to graduate."
Butler, the two-time men’s basketball runner-up, was back on the NCAA’s list after earning perfect marks of 1,000 each of the previous three years.
And Indiana’s basketball team, which spent more time ranked No. 1 than any other school last season, made it just five years after coach Tom Crean inherited a program that had posted three consecutive sub-900 scores. Athletic director Fred Glass said when the numbers come out next week, they will show Indiana has achieved a 1,000 in men’s basketball yet again.
"I don’t think the dumb jock thing was ever really fair and it certainly is not now and you don’t need to look any further than our men’s basketball team," Glass said. "Our kids are graduating in three years, so if you’re graduating on time at Indiana basketball, you’re behind."
Perennial basketball powerhouses Duke and Kansas appeared on the list along with traditional Big Ten football contenders Ohio State and Wisconsin and Top 25 regular Boise State.
"The NCAA’s quintessential student-athlete exhibits dedication and commitment both on the playing field and in the classroom," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. "These teams and programs truly embody the overall values of the NCAA, and have exceeded standards to post fantastic academic scores. We are delighted by such a clear example of our membership’s commitment to providing well-rounded experiences to student-athletes."