SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah likes to emphasize the student part of the student-athlete phrase used by the NCAA when talking about the many athletes that populate each campus in the United States.
On Tuesday, Utah was acknowledged for having three of its programs — gymnastics, men’s tennis and volleyball — earn perfect multi-year Academic Progress Report marks. The football program, along with those three programs, was also honored last week by the NCAA for being in the top 10 in the nation in APR for their respective sports.
"I am very proud of the academic performance of all of our sport programs and the emphasis our coaches place on our students graduating," Utah Athletics Director Mark Harlan said in a written statement. "Our students are dedicated in the classroom, just as they are in their athletic pursuits, and work extremely hard to achieve excellence. I'm also appreciative of the tremendous staff who support our student-athletes and our campus partners who share in this success."
Utah matched its previous best of four programs being ranked in the top 10 in 2014-15. A total of seven programs matched or surpassed their previous APR multi-year score, according to the NCAA. Additionally, 11 programs — men's and women's skiing, men's tennis, women's basketball, cross country, gymnastics, softball, soccer, women's swim, track & field and volleyball — reached a perfect single-year APR score.
The football team recorded a 991 single-year score out of 1,000, which is the second-highest score in the Pac-12, and the ninth-straight year the team has been in the top third of the conference, according to the university.
The university recently created Ute Academy, which is meant to help student-athletes in their pursuit of a career outside of their sports. The academy helps participants gain leadership skills while encouraging personal and professional development.
And though Utah is making a concerted effort to help students graduate and make the most of their education, many of the coaches get a bonus for how well their team does in the classroom, in addition to what they do on the field or court. For example, football head coach Kyle Whittingham will collect $75,000 this year for his team scoring over 980.
In a video conference call with the media in April, Whittingham said having a strong student-athlete education profile is one of many factors his team uses to sell the university to prospective athletes. Not only can Utah win on the field, it can compete academically, too.
“Anything you can do to build your brand, whether it's that (winning games) or whether it's the best graduation rate in the Pac-12 or best APR, whatever we can do to let people know that some good things are going on here, that helps your recruiting.”