With the spring semester slowly winding down, Lafayette students athletes will soon be packing up their equipment and hunkering down for the next great competitive endeavor – finals week.
And, in that endeavor, many of Lafayette’s student athletes rank high. In terms of APR (academic progress rate)—a metric used by the NCAA to hold institutions accountable for the academic well being of their students—Lafayette is second only to Bucknell in the Patriot League, and far above the national average.
APR was developed in 2003 to better measure college sports teams in terms of “the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term,” according to the NCAA.
In a multi-billion dollar NCAA sports industry where students were previously measured on a six-year graduation standard that failed to take transfers into account, APR became the new measurement for schools to track the quality of academic activity of their athletes during their time playing collegiate athletics. APR scores can range from 0-1000, with the national average sitting at 979.
This year, 13 of 21 Lafayette teams boasted a perfect APR this year, a rate of 62 percent—12 points above the next highest, Colgate, and only six points below competitor Bucknell. The other eight teams stayed above the national average, averaging 992 between them.
For President Alison Byerly, having this kind of academic success rate is vital to the college’s athletic recruiting.
“I think it shows that we really draw athletes who want a fully rounded experience,” Byerly said, “who come here wanting to play a division one sport as a Leopard, but who also are drawn to our curriculum…So I think we have done a good job of bringing students who have good academic interests that they are serious about. That’s reflected in the good work that they do.”
Lacrosse head coach Jim Rogalski said the school’s academic competitiveness makes it easy to boast a good APR year after year.
“We don’t have guys that come here and don’t handle the academic rigors,” Rogalski said. “From an APR standpoint, most guys will graduate in four years. We do a good job from a scholastic standpoint with our student athletes. But that’s the type of individual we’re recruiting—guys that understand that to be a division one athlete is doing well in the classroom.”
Rob Pollastro, graduating senior and former captain of the swim team, said that there is a lot of pride to be taken in not only the academic success of his team, but in the diversity of interests represented.
“Over my four years academically the swim team has been truly phenomenal,” Pollastro said. “Our team has been academic all American every semester and each year we have numerous kids make the all academic team for the patriot league. The cool thing, too, is that we have a wide variety of majors represented which makes our team GPA of 3.2 over four years pretty awesome.”
Pollastro went on to laud his coach’s efforts to keep up the academic success of him and his teammates over his four years here.
“[Jim Dailey] absolutely without a doubt has always put academics first,” Pollastro added. “We have two practice times a day so that kids who have late classes or labs that run late can go to those things and take those classes without missing practice. He holds us to a high standard absolutely, but understands that kids at Lafayette actually care about their grades and generally don’t need a third party to put more pressure on them.”