KNOXVILLE - Wednesday was a back-patting day around both University of Tennessee athletic departments, as every NCAA-sanctioned program on campus received satisfactory Academic Progress Report scores.
UT had four programs fall below the 925-point penalty line in the APR's first multi-year report, but drastic improvements from baseball and men's basketball have helped put the entire department in good academic standing.
"If our student-athletes aren't winning academically, they won't be competing," men's athletic director Mike Hamilton said.
Hamilton and several others pointed to UT's state-of-the-art Thornton Student Services Center for keeping its time-strapped athletes on a proper academic track.
"I am proud of the progress all our student-athletes and coaches have made," Thornton Center director Eric Brey said. "I commend the students for their efforts and thank the Thornton Center staff, coaches, faculty, staff and administration for their continued support and encouragement."
Baseball made a stunning multi-year average leap from 898 to 936, thanks to a 982 score from the 2008-09 academic year.
Men's basketball scored a perfect 1,000 in 2008-09, raising its average from 924 to 935.
Men's hoops coach Bruce Pearl credited three areas - his players, Thornton Center assistant director for counseling Kelly Brock and director of basketball operations Ken Johnson - for his program's marked improvement.
"Our kids deserve so much credit for their hard work in the classroom," Pearl said. "The longer I'm in this, the more and more I respect our student-athletes and the rigors of their schedule.
"I also need to recognize Kelly Brock. She does a terrific job keeping my coaches and me updated on each guy's academic progress throughout the semester. She travels with us during the season and conducts study hall on the road. She is a great asset for Tennessee basketball. ... And Ken Johnson works hand in hand with Kelly to keep everyone on track. He's got great relationships with all our players and is a great role model for them."
Football, despite a recent turnover rash in the coaching staff, dipped only slightly from 949 to 944 on the multi-year scale. Men's swimming and diving (946 to 972) and men's tennis (932 to 947) also made double-digit improvements.
Men's track and field fell closest to the punishment line, with 10-point dips to 928 indoors and 930 outdoors.
The Lady Vols' athletic department continued its strong APR record. Only softball (948) had a multi-year score before 973.
Women's golf and tennis had perfect 1,000 multi-year scores.
"I am very proud of the accomplishments our student-athletes have made," women's athletic director Joan Cronan said. "Now, we not only keep score on the field of play, but the APR is the win/loss record in the classroom, which is in accord with our mission statement that our student-athletes are students first."
(Last year's average - 2008-09 - This year's average)
Baseball 898 982 936
Basketball 924 1,000 935
Cross Country 960 868 945
Football 949 928 944
Golf 977 973 969
Swimming and Diving 946 1,000 972
Tennis 932 1,000 947
Indoor Track and Field 938 894 928
Outdoor Track and Field 940 894 930
Basketball 973 980 973
Cross Country 981 1,000 985
Rowing 986 989 987
Golf 992 1,000 1,000
Soccer 953 938 947
Softball 964 875 948
Swimming & Diving 969 1,000 975
Tennis 983 1,000 1,000
Indoor Track & Field 969 1,000 973
Outdoor Track & Field 969 1,000 973
Volleyball 970 979 975
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