LOGAN, Utah - Utah State was recognized by the American Football Coaches Association for graduating 70 percent or more of their football student-athletes.
"It means a lot to our program when you see it in writing the importance of the term student-athlete and how imperative it is to emphasize being a student first and then an athlete. That's something that we really try to focus on a daily basis with our academic staff and our coaching staff," USU head coach Brent Guy said.
The University of Colorado received the AFCA's 2008 Academic Achievement Award, which is presented by the Touchdown Club of Memphis. Colorado recorded a 100 percent graduation rate for members of its freshman football student-athlete class of 2001. This is the first honor for Colorado since the award's inception.
This year's award marks the first time the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) formula has been used to select the winner. From 1981 to 2007 the award was presented based on a formula used by the College Football Association and AFCA.
"We check classes ourselves amongst the coaching staff and we meet with the players individually about their academic progress," Guy said. "I personally talk to them about the importance of life after football and the difference in having a degree and not having a degree, specifically what impact that has on their life and their family for the future," Guy said.
USU was one of three Western Athletic Conference schools recognized, as the Aggies were joined by Louisiana Tech and Nevada. Utah State was the only school from the state of Utah to be recognized.
Utah State is among 46 other institutions who will be recognized for graduating 70 percent or more of their football student-athletes. Six of those institutions — Cincinnati, Duke, Navy, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Vanderbilt — achieved a rate of 90 percent or better. The remaining 40 institutions are: Air Force, Akron, Alabama, Arkansas State, Army, Baylor, Boston College, Bowling Green, Central Florida, Central Michigan, Colorado State, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio, Oregon State, Penn State, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Texas Tech, Toledo, UCLA, Utah State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington State and Wisconsin.
The Academic Achievement Award was established by the College Football Association in 1981. The award recognized the CFA-member Football Bowl Subdivision institution with the highest graduation rate among members of its football team. When the CFA disbanded in 1997 the AFCA stepped in to present the award and conduct a graduation rate survey that encompassed all members of the FBS.
The GSR is based on a six-year graduation window for student-athletes which is a change from the five-year window used by the CFA and AFCA. The GSR was developed by the NCAA as part of its academic reform initiative to more accurately assess the academic success of student-athletes. The GSR holds institutions accountable for transfer students, unlike the federal graduation rate. The GSR also accounts for midyear enrollees.
Under GSR calculation, institutions are not penalized for outgoing transfer students who leave in good academic standing. These outgoing transfers are passed to the receiving institution's GSR cohort. By counting incoming transfer students and midyear enrollees, the GSR increases the total number of student-athletes tracked for graduation by more than 37 percent. The NCAA also calculates the federal graduation rate for student-athletes because it is the only rate by which to compare student-athletes to the general student body.