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March 1, 2005

ULM Well Prepared for NCAA APR Report

MONROE, La. - - - The NCAA announcement yesterday of the Academic Progress Rate (APR) Report may have caught some institutions by surprise, but not the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The APR is a new NCAA initiative to encourage improved academic performance among student-athletes.

"We welcome the report as an additional tool to help us in our ongoing efforts to assess the academic needs of all our students," said Barbara Michaelides, ULM Director of Retention. "The programs we have in place and the programs we are developing will help all our students successfully progress towards graduation."

Dr. "Skeet" Creekmore, Professor of Education, Chairman of the Faculty Athletic Council and Faculty Athletic Representative to the NCAA said "The APR will provide the Faculty Athletic Council with yet another means of tracking the progress of our student-athletes semester by semester and helping them to succeed academically as well as athletically."

According to Creekmore, the ULM Faculty Athletic Council conducted a self study six years ago that reviewed all aspects of the role, scope and mission of the ULM athletics program, including equity, finances, and academics. As an important component of the review, the NCAA conducted a site visit to the ULM campus - one of the first institutions in the nation to be reviewed. The NCAA was impressed with the ULM model and report and used it as the model for other institutions.

Last year the Faculty Athletic Council began a 5 year look-behind self-study and report, that included a review of the academic progress of ULM student-athletes requested by the NCAA in the sports of men's basketball and baseball. According to Creekmore "The graduation rates for two of the teams were not an issue in that graduation rates for both team cohorts were strong."

He sited several measures that were established to assist student-athletes. The Council decided last year that it wanted to serve as academic mentors to the entire student-athlete community. To that end, it has been constructing the Faculty Athletic Council Academic Mentoring Program which focuses on supporting the needs of our entire student-athlete cohort. Each member of the faculty athletic council will serve as a mentor for our athletes. "This very much strengthens the tie between academics and athletics, enhancing recruitment as well as retention," Creekmore said. "Additionally, the Department of Athletics has put in place an academic tutoring program which serves the very important purpose of assisting student-athletes who are at-risk for academic problems. This departmental program is working very well with this group of student-athletes. Programs we have in place for our overall student body juxtapose well with the services that are being provided to our student-athletes."

Bobby Staub, ULM Director of Athletics agreed, and added "We have to do some things on our end to improve performance." He added that at this time, the NCAA APR is for informational purposes only. Eventually, the APR will be comprised of four years of rolling data regarding eligibility, retention and graduation rates. Beginning in 2005-2006, results of the APR report could result in contemporaneous penalties for individual athletics programs that do not meet the required standards.

Michaelides said that ULM has several programs in place to assist students with academic performance. Those include supplemental instruction, the emerging scholars mentoring program, and Freshman Interest Groups.

Josh Brooks, Director of Football Operations, said those programs compliment other programs provided through the Department of Athletics. "The student-athletes must attend a mandatory study hall five nights a week. In addition, we provide mentors for the new student-athletes to keep them on track. Our compliance office monitors the progress of every student-athlete. They let us know if a student-athlete misses a class or assignment or if they need additional support."

Regarding the APR Report, Head Football Coach Charlie Weatherbie said, "If we expect good things and provide the necessary support, we'll achieve excellence."

"Student retention is just as important to us as recruitment," said ULM President James Cofer. "We want all our students to succeed and graduate. We are rapidly developing the academic infrastructure to assist every student. This NCAA initiative goes hand in hand with the University of Louisiana System initiative that was established last year to improve retention and graduation rates of all students and we are serious about making improvements."

More information regarding the APR program is available at

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