Academic Reform

Academics First

One of Myles Brand’s greatest accomplishments as a leader was the implementation of his academic reform plan, which championed for “Academics First” in intercollegiate athletics.

Brand knew that student-athletes were all intelligent and capable students, but they were not always given the opportunity to prioritize their academics. He felt it was especially unfair that the government’s data metric didn’t account for graduation delays or transfers that would impact their graduation rates. So, Brand helped introduce two new data metrics that could accurately represent student-athletes’ graduation rates and be used to hold universities accountable for their academic progress.

The NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) was first introduced in 2003 to better account for student-athletes who transfer colleges. In his reform efforts, Brand heavily emphasized the importance of the GSR, which consistently resulted in higher graduation rates that more accurately represented reality.

Meanwhile, Brand introduced the new Academic Progress Rate (APR) to measure each team’s academic performance through the eligibility and retention of their student-athletes. This allowed the NCAA to actively monitor their progress each term and take action before those student-athletes failed to graduate. If a team was underperforming, then the NCAA would enact sanctions until they improved. Those sanctions banned teams from competitions and reduced the number of hours spent in athletic activities each week, so those students would be given more time to focus on their studies.

Brand also took measures to ensure prospective student-athletes were better prepared to pursue a college education. He increased initial eligibility standards, required more core high school courses, and placed less emphasis on test scores. These requirements were all designed to help improve student-athletes’ long-term quality of education and protect their progress towards graduation. 

By the end of his tenure, Brand was deeply proud of the success of his reform initiative, which resulted in steady improvement in both APR and GSR data.

Academic Reform

“Undergraduate Education: Seeking the Golden Mean,” Educational Record: The Magazine of Higher Education, 73:4, pp. 18-26

November 9, 1992

“Higher Education and Obligations to the Future: The Inaugural Address of Myles Brand,” delivered at Indiana University during his ceremonial inauguration

January 19, 1995

“Why Tenure Is Indispensable,” Chronicle of Higher Education, Point of View section, 45:30, pp. A64

April 2, 1999

“Academics First: Reforming Intercollegiate Athletics,” published in Vital Speeches of the Day; delivered to the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

January 23, 2001

“Academics First: Reforming Intercollegiate Athletics,” delivered to National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

January 23, 2001

“Academics First: Rejuvenating Athletics Reform,” Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) Trusteeship, 9:2, pp.18-22

January 24, 2001

NCAA State of the Association delivered as NCAA President at 2003 NCAA Convention

January 1, 2003

“Academics First: Progress Report” delivered at 2003 National Press Club

March 4, 2003

“Academics First: Progress Report,” delivered to the National Press Club

March 4, 2003

2003 Black Coaches Association Keynote Speech

June 5, 2003