published Thursday, June 21st, 2012

UTC soccer surges to perfect APR score

In this file photo, UTC's Donna-Kay Henry, center, celebrates after scoring a goal against Tennessee Tech.
In this file photo, UTC's Donna-Kay Henry, center, celebrates after scoring a goal against Tennessee Tech.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

All 17 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic programs have an Academic Progress Rate four-year average of 915 or higher. In addition, 11 sports posted perfect scores of 1,000 for the 2010-11 academic year.

The NCAA released the latest APR scores Wednesday and as the Times Free Press reported last month, UTC was penalty free for the second year in a row. The multi-year averages are made up of scores from 2007-08 to '10-11.

"I continue to be pleased with the direction of our programs, and obviously I'm pleased with all of the perfect scores," athletic director Rick Hart said. "That's really more in line with our expectations. Not to take away from the accomplishments, but that [1,000] should become more of the norm because I think many of those programs are capable of achieving those types of numbers on a regular basis."

Every UTC program posted single- and multi-year scores above the current benchmark of 900, which has been raised to 930 and is being phased in before taking full effect in 2015-16. There also is a new penalty structure that starts with, among other things, a postseason ban at level one.

The postseason ban has received a lot of attention because the Connecticut men's basketball team, a perennial power, is ineligible for next year's NCAA tournament because of low scores.

Just a couple of years ago, the UTC soccer program's scores were in the 800s and among the worst in the country. The team had a single-year score of 837 for 2007-08 and 825 the following year. Twice the program was hit with scholarship and practice-time reductions for failing to meet the NCAA's benchmark.

The past two years have shown a major turnaround. Coach J.D. Kyzer's squad posted a 984 for 2009-10, up a massive 159 points from the year before, and the team had a perfect score for '10-11.

"I don't think we were as knowledgeable as we are now, and I don't think [academic support] things were in place like there are now," Kyzer said. "Now there's so much in place that I tell kids on recruiting visits that you have to try to fail here. With all of the safety nets we have, you can't fail here."

Kyzer said all freshmen have to attend study hall and the only way to get out of it is to post a 3.0 GPA. Along with the increased academic support and initiatives, the women's soccer program has benefited from increased scholarship funding, which is helping UTC retain players.

Only two UTC programs, men's basketball (925) and women's soccer (915), have four-year averages below 930. Senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator Laura Herron said in May that all of UTC's sports can get above 930 with a good score from the 2011-12 academic year.

The men's golf program has a perfect four-year score of 1,000, while eight others are at 974 or higher. The football program posted a 950 single-year score and has an average of 930. Men's basketball had a single-year score of 913 and a multi-year of 925.

UTC's four-year score is eighth out of nine Southern Conference football teams, and the men's basketball team's multi-year score is No. 11 in a 12-team league. UTC is ahead of only Georgia Southern in both sports.

Posting perfect single-year scores were men's golf, men's cross country, men's indoor track, men's outdoor track, women's basketball, women's golf, softball, women's soccer, women's tennis, women's cross country and volleyball.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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