Cal Poly men’s basketball head coach Joe Callero called a study into the academic progress of NCAA Tournament teams and much of the resulting media coverage “irresponsible” after official figures Wednesday discredited the inclusion of the Mustangs as a failing program.
Updated Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores actually indicate that Cal Poly men’s basketball is in the upper half of more than 350 Division I programs in the country.
That flies in face of a March report appearing on the eve of the Mustangs’ NCAA Tournament first-round game claiming national graduation rates to be on the decline and naming Cal Poly as its first example.
“It was irresponsible journalism at best,” Callero said. “That would be putting it professionally.”
Citing information provided by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, an Associated Press report included the Mustangs as one of eight programs that “would be subject to NCAA sanctions that could keep them from future postseason play.”
The conclusion was misleading because it used passing APR scores from a prior period against a new standard to make it seem as though the schools named were currently failing.
In Cal Poly’s case, the most recent data was a critical piece of information that could have helped the Mustangs avoid a black eye. But those figures were only made available by the NCAA on Wednesday.
“If you’re the average person, you don’t know that,” Callero said. “You might think, ‘Oh boy, Cal Poly’s really struggling — and repeat it.’ ”
In fact, all 20 of Cal Poly’s NCAA-sponsored athletics programs received passing scores, and all rank well above the threshold to avoid penalties, which can include ineligibility for the postseason, as well as a loss of practice time or scholarships.
The APR score is derived by assigning points to athletes for remaining in school and remaining academically eligible. A rate using the points possible is multiplied by 1,000 to get the final score.
The annual score is then averaged with the previous three years for the multi-year rate, which is used to determine postseason eligibility.
Programs that do not have a score of 930 or higher will be ineligible for the upcoming year’s NCAA championship events.
The number of ineligible programs more than doubled this year, but the increase was expected since the minimum requirement was increased from 900.
With a score of 945, volleyball was the closest program at Cal Poly to that minimum threshold. The Mustangs men’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s swimming and women’s soccer teams were honored for posting multi-year scores in top 10 percent in their respective sports nationwide.
Men’s basketball’s multi-year score actually had the highest year-over-year jump of any Mustangs program.
Callero’s squad upped its multi-year score 34 points to 959 for the period beginning from 2009-10 and ending 2012-13, a period encompassing Callero’s first four years with the program.
Prior to this year’s score, the men’s basketball team’s multi-year score included performance that took place under former head coach Kevin Bromley.
The last nine seniors on the Cal Poly men’s basketball team, Callero said, have all graduated, and what riled the coach up most about the initial report was that it tarnished the accomplishments of those players.
“That’s the reason you have to be little fired up about it and assertive with it,” Callero said. “Get the facts out. If you actually want to get the real story, we’re in the top half of all the nation.”