190321 Georgia State at UNA 1

UNA mascot Leo and the Lions had 13 teams rate well in their first NCAA Academic Progress Rate. [MATT MCKEAN/TIMESDAILY]

In the 2018-2019 season, North Alabama saw 13 out of its 14 athletic teams finish above the four-year NCAA’s requirement with Academic Progress Rate to compete for championships.

While UNA is in the midst of a four-year transition to NCAA Division I where the Lions are currently ineligible for postseason competition, this is the first time UNA has received scores, making it an important benchmark to follow going forward.

“We talk about starting fast academically with our coaches,” UNA athletic director Mark Linder said. “To come out with (numbers) like we did in our first year, it positions us, gives us a good start to the four-year average we’ll be accountable for after the transition. I was quite pleased.”

In short, APR measures team academic success through eligibility and “retention of each student athlete for each academic term.”

Each athlete receives one point for staying in school and another point for being academically eligible.

A specific team’s total points are divided by the total points possible and multiplied by 1,000 to compute the score. Teams must earn a four-year average of 930 to be eligible for championships.

The Lions had six teams, including women’s tennis, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, men’s golf, baseball and women’s basketball receive a perfect 1,000.

Softball had a score of 992, women’s volleyball finished with a 979, women’s cross country scored 972, football with 946, men’s basketball with 939, and men’s cross country with 938.

The UNA football team played a mixed schedule of both NCAA Division I and Division II opponents in the season that was reported, so their numbers weren’t included with the rest of the Big South. However, UNA’s score was fifth best among other teams in the conference.

UNA baseball had the highest APR among ASUN conference teams, as well as men’s golf, softball and women’s soccer.

The only team that didn’t meet the standard requirement was women’s golf (917), which was currently in its first season as a program.

Linder said teams with smaller rosters can be affected by one or two athletes struggling.

Hypothetically, Linder said if an athlete decides to transfer out of school and not finish a school year, it would affect a golf team much more than it would a sport like football, due to the way the math turns out.

“Smaller squad size definitely has an impact on how fluid that number is, the more impact those decisions are,” Linder said.

Overall, the Lions don’t have reason to worry as much about one specific school year given their current numbers, but rather continued improvement over the next three years.

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