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AB.03.01

UPDATE ON THE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
OF STUDENT ATHLETES AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

A program of the Academic Progress and Eligibility Committee
And Division of Intercollegiate Athletics
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History of the Academic Review System (ARS)

In April 1992, the Athletic Board adopted the Academic Review System (ARS) to evaluate the "academic health" of the intercollegiate teams at the University of Illinois. The Academic Review System was initiated in the 1992-1993 academic year. This system sets out specific guidelines for academic performance and evaluations. An important component of this system is continual oversight of the academic performance of student-athletes. The following report is a summary of the analyses done for the fall 2001 and spring 2002 semesters.

Fall 2001 and Spring 2002 Academic Performance: A Comparison

Grade Point Averages

Before the implementation of the Academic Review System, the average grade point average for all student athletes was 2.79. In the fall 2001, student-athletes again had a combined GPA of 3.015 compared to once again a 3.12 for the general student body. In the spring 2002, student-athletes had a combined GPA of 3.049 compared to a 3.12 for the general student body. In the fall 2001 term, again 10 out of 19 teams achieved GPAs at or above the 3.0 or above. During the spring 2002 term, 10 out of 19 teams achieved GPAs of 3.0 or above.

During the fall 1991 semester the cumulative GPA for male student-athletes' was 2.72. In the fall 2001 semester, male student-athletes' achieved a GPA of 2.81. In the spring 2002 semester, male student-athletes' achieved a GPA of 2.898. A GPA of 2.89 was reported for the female student-athletes for the fall 1991, while female student-athletes' performed at a 3.21 GPA level in the fall 2001 term and a 3.265 GPA level for the spring 2002 term.

During the fall 1991 semester, 43.22% of all student-athletes achieved a 3.0 or better GPA. In the fall 2001 semester, 50.3% of student-athletes achieved a GPA of 3.0 or better and during the spring 2002 semester 53.59% of student-athletes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earned a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. These athletes represented all 19 varsity sports on campus. In addition, twenty-four student-athletes, in the spring, and fourteen student-athletes in the fall, achieved a perfect grade point average of 4.0.

Also to be noted, all 19 sports met the three criteria set forth by the Academic Progress and Eligibility Committee. These criteria are: 1) All team members must earn a cumulative 2.25 GPA for the semester. 2) All scholarship student-athletes must earn at least a cumulative 2.25 GPA for the semester. 3) 80% of the team must earn at least a 2.0 GPA for the semester.

Although many factors influence grade point averages, credit may be attributed to the Academic Review System for its role in positively impacting the academic performance of student-athletes a the University of Illinois. The value of the implementation of the ARS is apparent in the increased academic performance of both men and women student-athletes in the period since the beginning of the ARS in the fall 1992 semester.

Graduation Rates

In the "Official NCAA Graduation Rates Report" for the years 2000 and 2001, information is reported on all undergraduates at the University of Illinois, as well as all student-athletes who received athletics aid upon initial enrollment.

The 2000 report contains information on students entering the university in 1993. The information in the 2001 report pertains to students entering in 1994.

For comparison, two different measures of graduations rates will be presented in this report: (1) freshman-cohort graduation rate, and 2) exhausted eligibility rate. Within the freshman-cohort graduation rate data are two separate measures. One measure consists of a 4-year class average, the other measures graduation rates of the freshman who enter in a specific year and graduate within 6 years of initial enrollment.

To effectively study the graduation trends, the 4-year class average will be reported for 2000, and for 2001, the graduation rates of those students entering in 1993-1994 will be reported.

The freshman-cohort graduation rate for student-athletes is calculated only for those student-athletes who entered the University of Illinois on athletic aid and graduated from the University of Illinois within six years of enrollment. The freshman-cohort graduation rate does not take into account any student-athlete who was not on athletic aid upon enrollment, or student-athletes who have transferred to another institution and graduated.

2001 NCAA Graduation Rates Report (1994 Cohort)
All Students
Men Women Total
Freshman cohort 74% 79% 76%
(students entering in 1994-95)
Exhausted Eligibility NA NA NA

Student-Athletes
Men Women Total
55% 79% 64%
Exhausted Eligibility 88%

2002 NCAA Graduation Rates Report (1995 cohort)
All Students
Men Women Total
Freshman cohort 76% 82% 79%
(students entering in 1995-1996)
NA NA NA

Student-Athletes
Men Women Total
67% 86% 74%
Exhausted Eligibility 88%

For those student-athletes who completed their athletics eligibility at the University of Illinois, the graduation rate for 2000 and 2001 was 88%. Information regarding student-athletes who did not complete their eligibility at the University of Illinois, is not available in the NCAA Graduation Rate Report. If a student-athlete initially enrolls at the University of Illinois, and is on athletics aid, this student is included in the freshman cohort regardless of whether the student transfers to another institution.


The Athletic Board has just completed a self-study review of the Office of Academic Services, a support unit of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) with responsibility for monitoring and assisting student-athletes in the achievement of their academic goals. The academic success of every student-athlete is the unit's most important priority. This report was a review of the status, services, and future of the Office of Academic Services. The review was not triggered by any event or series of events. It was part of the ongoing process of the Athletic Board in monitoring and discussing academic aspects of student-athletes on the UIUC campus. The Office of Academic Services has evolved into a strong and successful unit, with a record of many successes. However, the self study report identified several areas where improvements could add to the success of the unit. The following bullets summarize the recommendations of the report.

Recommendation 1: An Assessment Program
While the committee has no evidence that there are problems in the performance of Office of Academic Services, there was concern about the lack of systematic annual evaluation. It is clear that at the present time, such an evaluation is not possible because the data are not available. The components of the initial program should be based upon risks and opportunities. Modifications to policy, procedure and the assessment program itself should follow when appropriate.

Tutor and Mentor Programs
The risks and opportunities in these areas are obvious. It should be noted that tutor programs administered by an athletics department require greater monitoring efforts to ensure that improprieties do not occur [University of Southern California Infractions Report 8/23/01, pg. 7]. A thorough review of all tutor and mentor program policies and procedures should be completed to ensure clear and accurate documentation of the program. The review should include a specific focus on policies and procedures related to tutor and mentor credentials, selection, training and evaluation. Similarly, procedures and forms utilized to document tutoring sessions and mentor meetings should be carefully examined. Standards should be established and measurements should be taken to ensure that all supporting records (e.g., employment records, time sheets, compliance statements, tutor evaluations, etc.) are gathered and maintained in an accurate and timely manner.

Academic Issues Review
General records review and reporting should be utilized to measure performance related to key academic concerns. The identification of an oversight group to assist with prioritizing issues and reviewing reports should be considered. Areas selected for periodic reporting and review could include issues such as course, instructor and major selection, summer school results, and study table. It is important that AARC is not directly involved in this review. However, AARC should perform its periodic assessment of the oversight process just as it does in other areas of the athletic program. It is recommended that the Athletic Board Executive Committee, slightly altered, be the oversight body. The alteration is the addition of a representative from the Office of the Provost as well as a Dean selected from a one of the colleges on campus. These additional members will join the Athletic Board Executive Committee only on matters pertaining to this oversight role.

Graduation Rates
A meaningful system for tracking student-athletes should be developed and implemented. The system should include the identification and recording of key variables (e.g., bridge students, transition students, core GPA, test scores, class rank, admitting college, major, GPA benchmarks, all athletic aid recipients, status upon early departure, etc.) and should be utilized to record, monitor, evaluate and report performance. This type of system will provide for a more accurate and comprehensive reporting and review of results than the NCAA Graduation Rates Survey.

Eligibility Projections
The procedure and forms employed by the unit to project and monitor the eligibility of student-athletes should be reviewed. All academic counselors with sport assignments should use a standardized form and reporting process. Accuracy of the projections should be assessed and reported annually by measuring them against the official results generated by the procedure used for certification of eligibility.

Prospective Student-Athlete Evaluation
The procedure and forms utilized to make academic evaluations of prospects should be reviewed. A revised procedure should be implemented so that records can be maintained (e.g., estimated core GPA, test scores, class rank, admissions concerns, etc.) for each prospect and each program for summary, evaluation and reporting purposes.

Recommendation 2
It is recommended that a matched cohort design study be implemented to test the hypothesis that the UIUC SA population performs academically at a level equal to, or greater than, the general at-large UIUC student population.

Recommendation 3
The option to have all student-athletes and academic counselors in one facility or in closer proximity to each other would be very helpful to the mission of OAS. More areas for studying would allow our students to spread out and work in an environment that would be more productive. The Irwin Center is a wonderful addition. Completing the space needs is the next task. The DIA and OAS should investigate and document the extent of space needs and push for such expansion as warranted.

Recommendation 4
OAS is currently seeking a listing of all courses that use Gradebook so that they can ask students to print out their grades for their academic counselors. This will aid in the attempt to assess progress. However Gradebook has no information on attendance, or performance beyond the quantitative information. It would be helpful if OAS could print reports by class or instructor to eliminate on sorting. The progress report process is a tedious one, and the return on investment is not good at the present time. In addition to these changes, OAS should consider other options to increase faculty cooperation.

Recommendation 5
An ideal staffing situation for academic counseling at the present time, or with the addition of another sport, would be:
- 6-7 academic counselors (2 for football [52 students each] and 4-5 for the other 18 sports [90 to 112 students each]).
- Life Skills Coordinator (working with all sports)
- Learning Specialist (working with academically challenged in all sports)