For the second year in a row, the University of Washington’s football team has topped its own best score — and led the Pac-12 conference — in the NCAA’s annual scoreboard of how well the first half of the label “student-athlete” is being fulfilled.
The Academic Progress Rate scores released this month for the 2017-18 school year gives UW football a 991, which nationally ranks behind only Northwestern, Duke and Clemson. The points are based on the number of scholarship athletes who stay in school with grades sufficient for sports eligibility.
This top-caliber performance signifies that UW leadership is placing proper priority on ensuring that scholarship football players are held to excellent off-field standards even as the team ascends into the ranks of national elites.
In the Apple Cup of academics, as on the gridiron, Washington State University has some catching up to do, having lodged a 960 grade, 10th in the Pac-12 and the lowest of all 42 teams in Washington for which the NCAA handed out grades. Perhaps the non-football academic seminar the Cougars’ Mike Leach taught was the idiosyncratic coach’s way of addressing this. We believe more leadership will be required for meaningful improvement.
The perfect 1,000 scores earned by the Huskies’ women’s tennis team and both Cougars’ golf teams show that high expectations can be fulfilled. With the NCAA’s ongoing focus on academic achievement and statistics that show student-athletes graduate at higher rates than the overall student bodies, it is reasonable to hold university athletics administrators responsible for classroom performance, and to praise them when the job is done well.