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College Football Grades Are Poorly Performing Teams More Likely to Break the Rules

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OneClass Blog
27 Nov 2019
14 min read

The NCAA infractions process is designed to make sure college teams adhere to the rules. Major infractions are issued for the most severe rule violations such as tutors doing homework assignments for athletes, unauthorized financial benefits, recruitment violations, and drug testing violations. 

In the past five years, the NCAA has cited 34 major infractions of Division I football teams. 

Were the teams that were issued major infractions performing poorly in their classes or have lower fan enthusiasm? Find out how the football teams stack up below.

What Trends Exist Between NCAA Infractions and Grades

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Understanding a Team’s Academic Performance

To understand the academic performance of the college football teams, we looked at a widely used NCAA academic index. The Academic Progress Rate (APR) is calculated based on the rate of football players on each team who stay in school and are academically eligible to play. 

This includes athletes earning a 2.3 GPA in core courses.

An APR of 930 is required to compete in the championships. Teams that don’t meet this threshold face time regulations during the regular season. This could mean replacing four hours of weekly practice with academic work. 

What Trends Exist Between NCAA Infractions and Grades?

In looking at the college football teams that were cited by the NCAA for major infractions, we found that many of these teams have higher academic performance. 

Of the teams with major infractions, 85 percent met the APR required to compete in the championships. Additionally, 50 percent of teams with major infractions had APRs in the top third of all teams that were analyzed. 

How Does Fan Happiness Factor In?

For this data, we looked at ESPN's College Football Fan Happiness Index. This takes into consideration team strength and accomplishment, head coach hot seat rating, recruiting trend (offseason), in-game panic, rivalry dominance, revenue growth, and Twitter sentiment. 

Interestingly, the teams that received major infractions did not necessarily have lower fan support, nor was fan support correlated with a team’s academic performance. 

Data on College Football Teams with Major Infractions

Stanford University
Multi-year APR: 986
ESPN Fan Happiness: 83
In 2016, the Stanford football team was cited by the NCAA for a financial infraction. Football players received about $3,500 in extra benefits from boosters, including the use of a vacation home, use of a vehicle, meals, and a loan to purchase a bicycle.

University of Alabama
Multi Year APR: 984    
ESPN Fan Happiness: 98
In 2017, the University of Alabama committed a recruitment violation by sharing false information and having prohibited communications.

Oklahoma State University
Multi-year APR: 982
ESPN Fan Happiness Index: 45
In 2015, Oklahoma State was cited for a major infraction. The NCAA investigation was a response to a Sports Illustrated expose that had multiple alleged claims. A drug testing violation was the only one to stick with the investigation finding that during five years, five football players were allowed to play despite testing positive for banned substances. 

University of Mississippi
Multi-year APR: 978
In 2017, the football team at the University of Mississippi was cited for lack of booster oversight including $37,000 in payments. Additionally, two former staffers arranged fraudulent scores on standardized tests for three recruits. 

Mississippi State University
Multi-year APR: 976
ESPN Happiness Index: 87
In 2019, Mississippi State was cited because a former tutor completed multiple assignments, exams, and in some instances, nearly the entire course for 10 football players. 

Baylor University
Multi-year APR: 976
ESPN Happiness Index: 23
The Baylor University team committed a major infraction in 2019 when it had prohibited communications during recruitment.

California Polytechnic State University
Multi-year APR: 975
In 2019, Cal Poly was cited for a major infraction due to a lack of oversight of athletes' stipends. The athletes in 18 sports, including football, each received an $800 flat book stipend which did not match the actual cost of the textbooks. We get that textbooks are expensive, but they don’t cost that much.

University of Florida
Multi-year APR: 975
ESPN Happiness Index: 89
The University of Florida was cited for a recruitment violation in 2016 when an assistant football coach visited prospects off-campus when it was not permitted. 

University of Missouri-Columbia
Multi-year APR: 972
ESPN Happiness Index: 91     
In 2019, a major infraction was committed by the Mizzou football team because a tutor completed academic work for 12 football players.

Rutgers, New Brunswick
Multi-year APR: 971
ESPN Happiness Index: 8
In 2017, the Rutgers football team was cited for lack of program oversight for drug test compliance.

Samford University
Multi-year APR: 971
The NCAA cited Samford in 2016 for not properly monitoring the certification process.

University of Virginia
Multi-year APR: 969
ESPN Happiness Index: 82
University of Virginia received a major infraction in 2017 as a result of prohibited communications during recruitment. 

University of Oregon
Multi Year APR: 968
ESPN Happiness Index: 86
In 2018, the University of Oregon was cited for a recruitment violation because of a statistics disclosure.

Syracuse University
Multi-year APR: 968
ESPN Happiness Index: 71
Syracuse University’s football team was cited in 2015 for multiple violations including academic misconduct, lack of program oversight, extra benefits, drug testing procedure, and booster activity. 

Houston Baptist University
Multi-year APR: 967
In 2018, Houston Baptist University received a major infraction for its failure to monitor student host program.

University of South Carolina-Columbia
Multi-year APR: 967    
ESPN Happiness Index: 76
A recruitment violation was the center of USC’s 2017 major infraction. The football team’s coach hosted prohibited tryouts and had prohibited communications. 

University of Notre Dame
Multi-year APR: 966    
ESPN Happiness Index: 94
The NCAA cited Notre Dame in 2016 for academic reasons. A student-tutor completed class assignments for football players in about 12 courses.  

Alcorn State University
Multi-year APR: 964
Alcorn State University was cited in 2016 because the college didn't appropriately monitor the certification process.

California State University, Sacramento
Multi-year APR: 956
A major infraction was issued to Cal State Sacramento in 2015 due to violations on the substance abuse policy, summer activities, and recruitment.

Appalachian State University
Multi-year APR: 955    
ESPN Happiness Index: 40
In 2016, App State was cited by the NCAA for having prohibited communications during recruitment. 

West Virginia University
Multi-year APR: 953    
ESPN Happiness Index: 88
WVU received a major infraction in 2015 for having prohibited communications during recruitment. 

University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Multi-year APR: 952    
ESPN Happiness Index:: 39
In 2016, University of Louisiana received a major infraction because the coach provided false test scores for the entrance exams of five prospects. 

Norfolk State University
Multi-year APR: 951
Norfolk State University received a major infraction in 2016 because the college didn't monitor the certification process.

Multi-year APR: 948
ESPN Happiness Index: 56
In 2016, UCLA received a major infraction for a recruitment incident when a football coach paid for the lodging and training of two prospects at a private training facility.

Georgia Southern University
Multi-year APR: 948
ESPN Happiness Index: 50
In 2016, Georgia Southern University was cited by the NCAA for academic violations. A staff member completed homework assignments on behalf of student athletes.

North Carolina Central University
Multi-year APR: 947
The NCAA issued a major infraction to NC Central University in 2018 because the college didn’t adhere to the academic certification process for its players.

Mississippi Valley State University 
Multi-year APR: 946
In 2017, Mississippi Valley State University was cited for improperly certifying academic eligibility for its student athletes. 

Campbell University
Multi-year APR: 945
Campbell University was cited in 2016 for certifying athletes when they failed to meet NCAA degree progress requirements.

Morehead State University
Multi-year APR: 930
In 2017, Morehead State University was cited for inaccurate eligibility certifications that resulted from software incorrectly calculating credit hours.

Savannah State University
Multi-year APR: 927
Savannah State University received a major infraction in 2019 because the school improperly certified student athletes’ academic credentials, and in two cases, ineligible athletes were allowed to play. 

Morgan State University
Multi-year APR: 927
The NCAA issued a major infraction to Morgan State in 2017 because the school failed to monitor financial aid processes and academic eligibility of players. 

Southern University, Baton Rouge
Multi-year APR: 925
Southern University was cited in 2016 because it did not comply with financial aid or academic eligibility rules. Over six years, more than 200 athletes were improperly certified across all 15 of the school’s sports, including football.

Florida A&M University
Multi-year APR: 923
Florida A&M was cited for certification violations in 2019 because the school did not monitor the eligibility requirements for its athletics program. In 2015, the team also received a major infraction because it failed to comply with eligibility requirements and scholarship communication procedures. This infraction was nearly identical to one that the school received nearly a decade earlier.

Is There a Better Way to Improve Your Grades?

The issues of academic compliance and eligibility have been central to the major infractions of several football teams. Grades are important, and there’s a better way for students to improve their GPAs. 

By using the study resources posted to OneClass, students have on-demand access to lecture notes, study guides, exam solutions, homework help and more.

The online resources have been so helpful that more than 90 percent of users have improved by at least one letter grade. For student athletes who face failing grades, this academic help could impact both their own education and the team’s status in the NCAA. 

Find out how OneClass can help you get better grades. 


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