Missouri, Alabama lead SEC in APR scores

The NCAA released its latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores on Tuesday, and nine of the 14 SEC football programs beat the national average score for football (949).

Missouri had the SEC’s highest score with a 982, and two-time defending national champion Alabama was second with a 978. Both the Tigers and Crimson Tide were honored by the NCAA last week for their APR scores in football.

The APR measures eligibility, retention and graduation over a four-year period. The new scores cover a four-year period from the 2008-09 through the 2011-12 academic years.

Tennessee (924) was the only SEC football program under the 925 threshold, which subjects teams to penalties such as scholarship losses and reduced practice time.

By 2014, schools that fall under a four-year APR average of 930 could face a postseason bowl ban.

First-year Tennessee coach Butch Jones knew the Vols were flirting with that standard when he took the job in December, but is confident the right steps have been taken to get Tennessee's APR scores back up to speed and steer clear of a bowl ban.

For instance, Tennessee's team GPA in the most recent semester improved to a 2.8, and Tennessee has also made it a priority under athletic director Dave Hart to strengthen its academic support system. Tennessee recently hired Joe Scogin from Missouri to head up its Thornton Center, which is the academic support center for athletes.

“Academics are at the forefront of the priorities within our football team, and we are excited with the results in the classroom from the spring semester,” Jones said. “We are moving forward with a great plan and structure that alleviates past academic concerns, and we are confident of avoiding any APR issues. Everything is in place to provide the best possible environment for achieving academic success for our student-athletes as we continue to move forward."