Oct. 27, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- The University of Tennessee men's and women's athletics departments announced Wednesday a graduation success rate (GSR) of 74 percent for student-athletes who entered the university from 2000-2001 through 2003-2004. Five Tennessee teams reported a GSR of 100 - Lady Vols basketball, Lady Vols cross country/track and field, soccer, women's tennis and volleyball.
In 2005, the NCAA rolled out a new graduation success rate calculation to measure the academic success of student-athletes at NCAA member institutions. The graduation success rate for University of Tennessee student-athletes in the 1999-2002 cohorts, released last year, was 76 percent.
"The academic success of our student-athletes is of paramount importance here at the University of Tennessee," said Mike Hamilton, director of athletics. "Educating and graduating student-athletes who win both academically and athletically is the primary focus of our athletic program."
Nine members of the current Tennessee football team are playing the 2010 season having already earned an undergraduate degree. This distinction makes Tennessee third nationally in the number of graduates on their current football roster.
Additionally, during the 2009-10 school year, 68 student-ath¬letes graduated from the University of Tennessee, and a total of 38 student-athletes earned a 4.0 GPA during the 2009-10 academic year.
"I am very proud of the continued outstanding accomplishments by our student-athletes," said Joan Cronan, director of women's athletics. "Our student-athletes continue to perform well academically and ultimately graduate with a degree from the University of Tennessee."
The GSR allows institutions to add transfer students on scholarship that fit into the 2000-2003 freshmen classes and delete those students that choose to leave and are academically eligible according to Progress toward Degree Requirements.
UT also announced the student-athlete federal graduation rate for the 2003-04 freshman class was 67 percent and the student-athlete federal graduation rate for the four year average was 60 percent, compared to a graduation rate for the general student body of 61 percent for the same time periods.
A key focus for the University of Tennessee athletic programs is to graduate student-athletes and prepare them for real-world experiences. In 2001, the University of Tennessee opened the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center to provide student-athletes with superior academic support programs and personal and career development assistance.
"I am pleased with the success our students have in the classroom," said Eric Brey, Director of the Thornton Center. "In comparison, the graduation success rate is a better indicator than the federal rate of the academic success our students have. It allows a closer look at those students that complete their athletic eligibility at the University of Tennessee. The Thornton Center staff works hard to help our students excel in their academic endeavors and move toward graduation."
The breakdown of the University of Tennessee's graduation success rates as compared to the federal rates for individual sports during this time period were as follows:
|Cross Country/Track and Field||80||73|
|Swimming and Diving||68||61|
|Cross Country/Track and Field||100||77|
|Swimming and Diving||85||63|
The university encourages former athletes who left in good standing to return to the university to achieve their degree. The Renewing Academic Commitment (RAC) Program works with former student-athletes by assisting them with advice on degree requirements remaining, course scheduling, tutoring, employment and internship opportunities offered through the CHAMPS/Life Skills Office, and use of the Thornton Center for their every day needs.
"The RAC program has been a great way for former athletes to return to school and finish their degree," said Mike Hamilton, men's athletic director.
There are currently six former student-athletes that are working with the RAC Program. A total of 51 former student-athletes have earned their degrees through the Renewing Academic Commitment (RAC) program in the past six years.
With the changes to the NCAA rules for academic progression, the role of the Thornton Center is even more critical. The academic progress towards degree requirements require a student-athlete to complete various percentages toward degree requirements, specific grade point averages, and other requirements to remain eligible to compete.