LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The the University of Louisville football program's multi-year Academic Progress Rate score rose three points when the latest rates, reflecting the 2010-11 school year, were released today by the NCAA.

That's not exactly a meteoric rise. But it took a pretty dramatic shift in numbers to attain. U of L's multi-year score had declined for five straight years, resulting in a penalty of three scholarships for dipping below the NCAA-mandated standard last year. The APR is a four-year measure of the eligibility and retention of athletes.

With an APR score of 911, U of L remains one of only eight programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision below the score of 930 required by the NCAA to avoid sanctions. But if it continues to post scores like the 948 it posted in the most recent results, it will face no further penalties.

When Charlie Strong arrived as head coach before the 2010 season, he compared the academic support system in place at Florida with what he found at U of L and made some immediate changes.

Among his first moves was to add at least three full-time academic support positions within the football program. Dawn Aulick, a learning specialist who worked with many athletes, had her office moved right into the Howard Schnellenberger football complex.

Then Strong went to work on the players themselves. More than one was surprised that when he met face-to-face with the coach and the subject turned to academics, Strong picked up the phone and got the player's parents on the phone right then. Brandon Heath was one of those players.

Strong dispatched coaches to classes, which is pretty common, but he spent hours in the morning checking classes himself, which is not.

U of L's APR score a year ago -- reflecting the 2009-10 academic year, Strong's first on campus, with turnover from the previous staff still shaking out, was 869, and the multi-year score of 908 cost the Cardinals three scholarships. The jump to 948 a year later might only have represented a three-point bump in U of L's four-year average, but it's a significant shift in direction for the program.

ELSEWHERE, programs across the board for local universities all earned passing marks.

U of L men's basketball and IU men's basketball both posted a perfect single-year score of 1,000 for the second straight year and UK's score of 963 was well above average despite high roster turnover.

The U of L women's score took a dip to 891 with some roster defections, but its multi-year score of 941 is still well above the needed NCAA cut score of 900 (or a two year span above 930).

At UK, 15 of the 22 teams scored above the NCAA average for public universities. Eight UK teams posted a perfect score of 1,000.

Nationally, Connecticut was the highest-profile of 10 NCAA Division I teams who received a postseason ban for posting too low a score. UConn also will be barred from participating in the Big East Tournament next season because of the ban.

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