Dec. 19, 2005
The University of Tennessee men's and women's athletics departments announced graduation success rates (GSR) for student-athletes who entered the university between 1995 and 1998 in conjunction with the NCAA's release of individual team rates for all Division I athletic programs.
This year, the NCAA rolled out a new graduation success rate (GSR) calculation to measure the academic success of student-athletes at NCAA member institutions. The GSR adds transfer students on scholarship that fit into the cohort and deletes those students that choose to leave and would have been academically eligible to compete the next semester had they remained. The GSR is considered a more accurate account of student-athletes' graduation rates because it is more inclusive of student-athletes who compete here and omits those who succeed academically while here but choose to transfer. The federal graduation rate does not add transfer students, nor does it take into account the students that choose to transfer and leave prior to graduation. According to the Department of Education, approximately 60 percent of the general student population in the United States transfers.
The University of Tennessee's graduation success rates and federal rates for individual sports were:
|Men's Sports||GSR||Federal Rate|
|Cross Country/Track and Field||62||57|
|Swimming and Diving||71||58|
|Women's Sports||GSR||Federal Rate|
|Cross Country/Track and Field||91||80|
The University of Tennessee already had an internal system in place to measure the academic success rate of its student-athletes. The success rate is similar to the GSR but does not take out students based on transfer. Rather it looks at all scholarship student-athletes in the cohort and then calculates the rate based on their eligibility to continue as a student at the University of Tennessee. Instead of removing students from the calculation based on leaving the university, which would include athletes who leave to pursue professional careers or transfer to another college or university, it simply looks at the percent of students that either graduated or were eligible to be students at the University of Tennessee. The academic success rate for this group was 95 percent.
"I am pleased with the success our students have in the classroom," said Eric Brey, Director of the Thornton Center. "The new graduation success rate is a better indicator than the federal rate of the academic success our students have. The Thornton Center staff works hard to help our students move toward graduation."
"I am very proud of the accomplishments our student-athletes have made," added Joan Cronan, women's athletic director. "The Thornton Center staff has done a great job keeping our student-athletes on track to graduate."
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 currently are 12 former student-athletes working with the RAC Program and more than 20 that have inquired about returning to school in the near future. In 2004-05, there were nine graduates in the RAC Program.
A key focus for the Tennessee athletics programs is to graduate student-athletes and prepare them for real-world experiences. In 2001, UT opened the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center to provide student-athletes with superior academic support programs and personal and career development assistance. Since the creation of the Thornton Center, Tennessee's student-athletes have achieved increasing academic success:
- Twenty-five UT student-athletes earned their diplomas last weekend. In 2004-05, 87 current and former Vols and Lady Vols graduated from the University of Tennessee, continuing Tennessee's athletics commitment to excellence in the classroom. This group boasts 49 SEC honor roll and 60 Thornton Athletics Student Life Center honor roll recognitions.
- Tennessee had 200 male and female student-athletes who achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher for that semester in the fall semester, and 222 male and female student-athletes who achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the spring semester.
- Eighteen former student-athletes have returned to earn their bachelor's degree through the RAC program since fall 2003.
"The Thornton Center has been very active in the NCAA's academic progression discussions and has put in place a great framework to make sure our athletes stay on track," Hamilton said. "If our student-athletes aren't winning academically, they won't be competing."