Butler lone NCAA finalist with top APR

INDIANAPOLIS -- Butler didn't get its national title in Houston.

At least it can carry the torch for academic success among the best college sports teams.

On Tuesday, the NCAA released its list of academic overachievers, and Butler was the only team among those that reached this year's championship round in Division I football, men's basketball or women's basketball.

The academic numbers are based on data collected from 2006-07 through 2009-10.

"To be real candid, that's an expectation of mine, so we're not going to do cartwheels or shoot fireworks because this is something we achieved," coach Brad Stevens said after the release. "That's an expectation and that's what we're going to strive to do. I'm proud of our guys, but they came to Butler to do well in the classroom, on the court and in the community, and that's what we expect."

NCAA officials annually announce the top 10 percent of teams in each sport and all teams with perfect Academic Progress Rate scores. This year, 909 teams made the list of so-called overachievers. That's an increase of 68 from last year and nearly 150 from two years ago.

The actual scores will not be released until next week, when the NCAA will announce sanctions for teams that have consistently underperformed below the standard cutline of 925. The APR measures the classroom performance of every Division I student-athlete, composing a score for each team.

All the teams that made it this year scored between 977 and a perfect 1,000, and Stevens said he believed his team had a perfect score.

"I think we're pretty proactive in talking about being a great student and how that affects the rest of your life," Stevens said. "If you're behind in all of your classes on Oct. 15, there's no way you're going to be as successful on the court or in the classroom."

This year's results were a stark contrast to last year's.

Three of the 2010 men's Final Four teams -- Butler, Michigan State and West Virginia -- all made the list last year. All three were back on this year's list, too, as was Duke, the 2010 national champion. Connecticut, Kentucky and Virginia Commonwealth, the other three teams that were in Houston this April, did not make it.

A year ago, Oklahoma was the only team from the women's Final Four to make it. This year none of the four -- Connecticut, Notre Dame, Stanford or Texas A&M -- were honored.

Also left out were the teams that played for the 2011 BCS title, Auburn and Oregon; those that played in last year's College World Series final, South Carolina and UCLA; and the two teams in last summer's NCAA softball championship, UCLA and Arizona. Even the teams squaring off for in January's Football Championship Subdivision title game -- Eastern Washington and Delaware -- were missing.

Only one team men's ice hockey team, Notre Dame, made both the list and the Frozen Four.

Still, NCAA president Mark Emmert was pleased with the overall results.

"Most student-athletes excel at balancing their academic and athletics commitments, yet each year there are those who perform at extraordinary levels," Emmert said in a statement. "By achieving the highest levels of academic success as a team, these young men and women truly embody what it means to be a successful NCAA student-athlete."

Four national champs from the 2009-10 season did make the list: Duke in men's basketball, Fairleigh Dickinson in women's bowling, Michigan in gymnastics and Denver in skiing.

As usual, the Ivy League schools dominated the list of sports. Yale had the most teams (23) recognized. Brown (22) was second, with Dartmouth third (21). Among FBS schools, Notre Dame (17) and Duke (15) had the most teams on the list.

The Ivy League also led all conferences with 135 teams listed. The Patriot League was next with 82 and the Big East was third at 77.