Archive for Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Heard on the Hill: All about academic brackets: chancellor talks up Inside Higher Ed bracket; KU men fall in Sweet 16 in another academic bracket; KU women drop in first round

March 14, 2012


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• It’s all about academic brackets here at Heard on the Hill World Headquarters today.

I heard a lot of chatter about KU’s performance in Inside Higher Ed’s Academic March Madness tournament, where the men’s basketball team vanquished all comers.

Teams performed well in the bracket by doing well on their Academic Progress Rates from the NCAA, which measure academic eligibility and retention. In case of ties, they moved on to the stricter Graduation Success Rates, which track players’ graduation rates. Student-athletes who transfer or leave early for the NBA are not counted against the school, as long as they leave in good academic standing.

KU’s chancellor was talking up the bracket at the KU Hospital Board meeting I attended on Tuesday.

She identified Kansas Athletics’ excellent academic support services as a reason why the team performed well. Student-athletes have access to peer tutors, and coaches are very concerned about academic success.

“The only regret I have is that we don’t have that level of support for all students,” Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said.

Though I’m sure the chancellor wasn’t referring to this specifically, it would be interesting, indeed, if all KU students had senior citizens who made sure they went to their 8 a.m. psychology class.

• The Washington Post’s Campus Overload blog ran its own academic bracket using just the stricter of the two measures, the Graduation Success Rates.

In that bracket, KU, which has a score of 91, dropped in the Sweet 16 to a Belmont buzzsaw, which had a 100 percent rate.

After the Elite Eight, when nearly every team had a 100 percent rate, the scoring switched from the men’s basketball GSR to the GSR for all student-athletes.

Notre Dame barely beat Harvard in that iteration of the tournament.

It just goes to show that how you calculate things can make a big difference. Still, KU’s 91 percent rate fared a lot better than last year’s national champion, Connecticut, which had a 25 percent rate.

Kansas State’s rate was 50 percent, good enough to go out in the round of 32, and Missouri also went out in the Sweet 16, with a rate of 67 percent.

• And, by the way, Inside Higher Ed also published on Tuesday another academic bracket for the women’s teams.

It uses the same criteria as the men's tournament did.

The KU women didn’t perform as well as the men, going out in the first round to Nebraska.

The competition was much stiffer on the women’s side, the site reported. And, sadly, the site doesn’t publish all the rates from the various teams.

DePaul won the women’s edition of the academic bracket, with Dayton, Princeton and Oklahoma joining them in the Final Four.

• It’s Pi Day, so I’d appreciate if you would send me 3.14159 tips or so to


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