Investigating Equity : An Evaluation of the Relationship of the NCAA’s APR Metric on Similarly Resourced Historically Black and Predominantly White NCAA Division-I Colleges and Universities

Ryan J.R. Westman


In 2003, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) launched the Academic Performance Program (APP) as a means of measuring institutional accountability of academic outcomes for Division I member institutions. One of the two metrics used to define academic effectiveness is the Academic Progress Rate (APR) metric, immediately drew considerable criticism for its penalty structure, which disproportionately impacted colleges and universities with lesser resources. As time progressed, these penalties almost exclusively were distributed among the poorest institutions in Division I, which is heavily represented by the nation’s most prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities. These penalty trends begged the question of whether resource level, or race, was significant in predicting APR penalties.

Using Harris’ Critical Race Theory (2012) and Pfeffer and Salancik’s Resource Dependence Theory (1978) as a guiding theoretical framework, and publicly available data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the Knight Commission Athletic & Academic Spending Database for NCAA Division I, and the Academic Progress Rate (APR) Database, I sought to evaluate whether institutional-level variables associated with resource level, student academic profile, student financial aid, institutional mission, admissions characteristics, and race were significant predictors of APR penalties.

The outcomes of a logistic regression identified HBCU (institution type), Pell percentage, and ACT scores as significant predictors of APR penalty. Resource level was not determined to be a significant predictor of APR penalty.