The University of Central Arkansas football program will receive a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Athletic Director’s APR award this summer.    

The UCA program will be honored for highest multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) average in the Southland Conference for the reporting period ending in 2009-10. The football program had a 942 average (1000 is a perfect score) over that four-year window. Programs that fall below 925, which is considered a 50 percent graduation rate by the formula, are subject to sanctions, including loss of scholarships. 

"This is actually our first-ever multi-year score because it’s based on a four-year period, and began in 2006, the year we moved to NCAA Division I FCS," said Dr. Brad Teague, UCA’s director of athletics. "So to win this award in our first opportunity is quite a feat."    

The presentation will be made at the FCS Athletic Director’s Association luncheon on Thursday, June 16, that is held in conjunction with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention in Orlando, Fla. The award recognizes an FCS institution that has achieved either the highest multi-year APR average in its respective conference or has registered the greatest single-year APR score improvement among the conference membership.    

"We certainly appreciate the emphasis that (head football coach) Clint Conque and the assistant coaches place on academics," Teague said. "They work hard to ensure that their student-athletes stay at UCA and graduate."    

The APR is a mathematical formula. Athletes, in all scholarship sports, are given a retention point when they return to the institution each semester. They also receive an eligibility point each semester when they remain academically eligible to compete in athletics, according to NCAA guidelines.    

"Our football program has really done an outstanding job on both fronts," said Teague. "Their graduation rates continue to rise because of the emphasis they are placing on academics and the effort they are putting into improving the lives of these young men."    

Conque, who will begin his 12th season at UCA in the fall, has led the Bears to a 36-21 overall record since moving to Division I in 2006. UCA finished first in the Southland Conference in 2008 with a 6-1 record but was ineligible for an official league championship or postseason play because of the transition period in moving to Division I.    

"I’m incredibly pleased with this recognition for our football program," Conque said. "It starts with our players, their families and their commitment to the University of Central Arkansas. But it stretches all across our campus as well, from our assistant football coaches, to our compliance office, to our athletic director, to our academic support system, to the academic success center. Everyone plays a significant role in this type of achievement."    

UCA football also turned in a score of 960 for the 2009-2010 school year, the highest among Arkansas Division I schools.    

"The thing that I’m probably most proud of is this is a four-year rolling average," Conque said. "And to have the highest in our conference, such an established conference, means a great deal.

"We talk about student-athletes and we talk about commitment to education... I think this is a milestone that we can build on. Three weeks ago we had a young man drafted into the National Football League. And now we announce a very significant academic recognition. I think it’s indisputable that young people can come to this university, play an extremely high quality of football and see the outstanding committment to a high-level education."    

Two institutions from each of the 14 FCS conference in the country were honored, one for the highest average APR score and one for biggest improvement from one year to the next. Northwestern State University will receive the latter award for the SLC.