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

“Value-Based Educational Model,” NCAA State of the Association delivered at 2004 NCAA Convention

January 1, 2004

“Academics and athletics: playing for the same team: NCAA president discusses the challenges of leading the organization in an era of academic reform,” Black Issues in Higher Education, 21:4, pp. 26-31, by Ronald Roach

April 8, 2004

“BackTalk; In Athletics, Level Field Must Begin in Classroom,” The New York Times

May 9, 2004

“Education of College Athletes,” Brand responds to viewer messages about the NCAA’s proposal to improve the quality of college athlete education

May 29, 2004

“The Myths of College Sports: Debunking the Four Great Commonly Held Misperceptions About Intercollegiate Athletics,” NCAA State of the Association delivered at 2005 NCAA Convention

January 8, 2005

“Putting the ‘Student’ Back into Student Athlete,” Black Issues in Higher Education, 22:4, pp. 28-30, by Kendra Hamilton

April 7, 2005

Discussion on Graduation Success Rate with Christianson, Lennon, Petr

December 14, 2005

NCAA Interview Announcing the first Graduation Success Rates (with Christianson, Lennon, Petr, Harrison)

December 19, 2005

“The Role and Value of Intercollegiate Athletics in Universities,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 33:1, pp. 9-20

January 1, 2006

“Myles Brand,” Views from the Presidency: Leadership in Higher Education, pp. 56-85, Francis L. Lawrence

January 1, 2006