Dr. Joe Scogin and Tennessee’s academic support staff performed a minor miracle in helping the football program achieve a 932 APR for 2013, just two points above the NCAA minimum standard needed to avoid losing scholarships and postseason eligibility for 2014. The next goal is to make sure Butch Jones’ Vols never come that close again.
“The great thing I love about Coach Jones is that he and I have the same philosophy: We’ll never be in the position again where we’re counting (APR points) just to stay above the penalty phase,” Scogin told InsideTennessee. “He and I both have aspirations to lead the conference in APR. We’re talking about not losing any points.”
Tennessee’s APR, well below the acceptable 930 standard last spring, should be well above the 930 level this spring. Here’s why:
APR is based on a four-year evaluation period. Tennessee’s current rating of 932 is based on the school years 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13. Once the 2013-14 school year is completed, it will replace the 2009-10 school year in Tennessee’s APR equation. The 2009-10 school year (Lane Kiffin’s season) produced a low APR, whereas the 2013-14 school year projects to produce a high APR. Obviously, replacing a bad year with a good year is going to raise the four-year average.
“The year that’s rolling off (2009-10) is a relatively low number,” Scogin said. “So, if we replace a relatively low number with a higher number, we’re still in relatively good shape.”
Actually, “relatively good shape” might be an understatement. The Vols posted a perfect 1000 score last spring and are on the verge of putting up another big number for the fall.
“We just concluded a very, very productive semester academically,” Butch Jones said. “We had the second highest fall GPA in the history of our football program. We had 40 individuals earn a 3.0 or above and we had no individuals who are academically ineligible who didn't pass the required nine hours.”
The long-range goal Jones and Scogin share is for the Vols to contend for academic titles, as well as football titles.
“When you take off low numbers and replace them with extremely high numbers, we can look forward to Tennessee being at the top of the conference in APR,” Scogin said. “Ultimately, as we continue to look at the vision of where we’re headed, we’ll start celebrating (APR) championships now instead of just meeting the minimum standard.”
Although his job is to help Tennessee’s athletes succeed in the classroom, Scogin is determined to help them succeed on the field, as well. He played for a national title as a college baseball player at Fort Hayes State and retains a competitive nature to this day.
“As a former student/athlete I have a mentality of winning championships,” he said. “I want to win championships in everything that we do. We talk about building a culture around our athletics department. (Athletics director) Dave Hart has been great with his commitment to comprehensive excellence – this idea of creating a culture within the department where the expectations are to compete for championships in everything that we do.”
No one appreciates this mindset more than Butch Jones.
"It is all about the foundation of excellence and the standard within your football program,” the head coach said. “A lot of thanks go to Dr. Joe Scogin and the entire Thornton (Center) staff. They are a part of our football family and that standard of excellence we have throughout the entire athletic program. Joe and the Thornton staff are instrumental in that.”