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ABC's of the APR: Even with recent turnover rate, U basketball team not in danger of sanctions

Published: Tuesday, June 5 2012 9:40 p.m. MDT

Blake Wilkinson of Utah takes a shot as the University of Utah faces Adams State College in preseason basketball played in Salt Lake City, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

20 Utah basketball players have departed since 2010

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the reasons the NCAA instituted the Academic Progress Rating (APR) system in 2003 was to help slow the revolving doors of student-athletes leaving colleges on an annual basis. Many schools got in the habit of bringing players in, discarding them after a year and starting over with new players the next year.

That was the situation at the University of Utah during the Rick Majerus Era, when an average of three players left the program every year during his 15-year tenure. With two coaching changes since Majerus, the revolving door has continued to be a problem at the U., particularly the past three years when 20 players have left the program, including 15 in the last two years alone.

So with all that turnover, is the Utah program in danger of NCAA sanctions, which have hit major schools such as Syracuse and Connecticut in recent years?

Surprisingly, no.

Despite the 15 players leaving since Larry Krystkowiak became coach in April 2011, the Utah basketball program isn't in any immediate danger of having sanctions leveled against the program such as Syracuse, which lost a couple of scholarships, or UConn, which is facing a one-year postseason ban in 2013.

"I know none of our programs will be at risk for having to face any penalties," said Kate Charipar, Utah's assistant athletics director for compliance. "At this point because of the APR scores we have reported, we are not in jeopardy of facing any penalties."

The scores for the 2011-12 school year won't be reported until the fall, but Charipar and Krystkowiak are confident the basketball program's APR number will still be above the four-year 925 minimum set by the NCAA and well above the four-year rate of 900 that determines if teams are ineligible for postseason competition.

You can give part of the credit for that to former Ute coach Jim Boylen. Even though he may not have left Krystkowiak with great players, at least he kept his players going to class, made sure they graduated, and kept watch on their grade-point averages.

The Utah basketball program had perfect APR scores of 1,000 for both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years and a 980 score in 2008-09. Because the APR is based on a four-year rolling number, the basketball numbers should be well above the NCAA benchmark even with a lower number this year, following a 913 last year.

The APR is quite complicated, but it basically comes down to points being given to each athlete in each sport for staying in the program and keeping a grade-point average of at least 2.6. If a player does transfer, no points are deducted as long as he finishes his semester and goes to another four-year school. The minimum number of 925 means a program has 92.5 percent of the possible retention and eligibility points.

Krystkowiak says he believes in the purpose of the APR, but feels like it can hurt schools when there is a change in coaches.

"I would say the APR is valid," Krystkowiak said. "I would argue, based on what happened to us last year, so much of that is out of our control. But I guess the penalty applies to the school."

Krystkowiak is referring to the fact that after Boylen was let go, a couple of his players left without high enough GPAs and some went to two-year colleges, both of which cost the program APR points. The 913 basketball APR number was the lowest in six years, but a single year's score doesn't hurt a program.

When he was named coach at Utah in April 2011, Krystkowiak didn't try to talk any of the players he inherited into staying.

Four stuck around — David Foster, Jason Washburn, Chris Hines and Josh Watkins — but another eight players transferred out of the program.

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