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Tech athletes score high in latest NCAA Graduation Success Rate report


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the fourth consecutive year, Tennessee Tech has seen an increase in the school's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for student-athletes. In addition, nearly every team has posted a GSR above the national average, the Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) for student-athletes is above the national average, and the mark is 15 percent higher than the rate for the general TTU student body.

“This most recent GSR and FGR reports are continued good news for Tennessee Tech Athletics, ones that we can take a great deal of pride in,” said Mark Wilson, TTU Director of Athletics. “It verifies in numbers that we are successfully fulfilling our mission of graduating our student-athletes.

“The results of this most recent NCAA report speaks to the diligence of our student-athletes,” Wilson said. “Our students are coming in better prepared when they enter Tennessee Tech, and they are staying on track to earn their degrees.”

Posting a GSR higher than the TTU student body is even more impressive when considering that Tennessee Tech’s student body has a higher graduation rate than every other four-year school in the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) system.

The NCAA released the national GSR and FGR reports Thursday, and the numbers shed light on how well Tech compares with other public institutions within the state as well as in comparison with schools in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Tennessee Tech has a GSR of 80 for the six-year period tracking students who entered in 2006. The school's GSR was 77 in 2010, 78 in 2011 and 79 in 2012, so it has shown a steady climb in the NCAA reports.

Tech's Federal Graduation Rate is 67 percent, which is two points higher than the national average of 65 percent for student-athletes. Tech ranks tied for second in the Ohio Valley Conference with SIU Edwardsville. Tech and SIUE are the highest-ranking public institutions in the OVC, trailing in the rankings only private school Belmont.

The 67 percent Federal Graduation Rate for Tech's student-athletes is also 15 percentage points higher than the FGR of Tech's general student body, which is 52 percent for the 2006 incoming freshmen in the report.

Tech's GSR ranks third among Tennessee's four-year public colleges and universities, just behind Memphis (84) and Middle Tennessee State (82). TTU tops Austin Peay, Tennessee State, UT Martin, University of Tennessee, East Tennessee State and Chattanooga on the list.

"When you compare the size of the staff devoted to academic support for student-athletes at Tech with the other state schools, the results are even more impressive," Wilson said. "While a couple of our sister TBR institutions have considerably more academic advisors in their athletic academic support staff, we are achieving these results with three academic counselors.  That speaks volumes for the job those three and our coaches do with stressing the importance of the academic work to our student-athletes.”

It has been a while now, just over seven years, since the incoming freshmen who figure in this year's NCAA reports arrived on the Tennessee Tech campus, migrating to Cookeville from hometowns scattered across the country and around the world. In that time, they have completed their work, accepted their degrees, and embarked upon new lives and careers.

Yet that incoming class that enrolled in the fall of 2006 is still having an impact on Tennessee Tech athletics – a very good impact. Their success has provided TTU Athletics with another set of impressive results.

Tech president Dr. Philip Oldham echoed Wilson’s pride in the report numbers.

“Our university is committed to making sure our student-athletes and our entire student body have the instruction, resources and support they need to be a part of our community of scholars capable of taking on any challenge," said TTU President Philip Oldham.”

Tech is ranked annually among the national standard bearers in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) report, which measures eligibility and retention.

Two Tech teams achieved a rank of 100 on the GSR, tennis and volleyball, each doing so for the second conseutive year. Those two teams also led the Ohio Valley Conference while the Golden Eagle football team posted the second-highest GSR in the league. Eight of Tech's 14 programs ranked among the top four in the OVC.

Twelve of Tech's 14 teams had GSR numbers above both the national average for all college and universities, as well as the national average of all Football Championship Subdivision programs.

The latest GSR report reflects several other positive trends by Tech’s student-athletes, including the upward growth of the total numbers on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and the record-breaking combined grade point average by Golden Eagle student-athletes.

“From nearly every aspect, whether you compare our student-athletes to the OVC, to the four-year public colleges in the state, or to specific segments of the TTU student body, there are impressive numbers and very strong outcomes,” said Dr. Jeff Roberts, Tech’s Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA.

During the past couple of years, Tech’s student-athletes have posted the highest combined GPA ever achieved at the University, earned a combined 3.0 GPA 10 times in the last 11 semesters, and filled the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll with more than 200 in seven of the last nine semesters.

“These kind of numbers continue to point out that our student athletes, our academic support personnel, our coaches, and our entire staff continue to take seriously the importance of academic success,” Roberts said.  “This latest GSR is another gauge in how we’re doing, and it says we’re doing well.”

The history of Tennessee Tech Athletics has typically shown a higher graduation rate for student-athletes than the general student body, and the GSR is a national report that supports that trend.

“If you layer the GSR on top of the statewide graduation rates, we can say that Tennessee Tech is among the leaders in the state for graduating our student-athletes,” Wilson pointed out.

The NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate includes transfer students and student-athletes who leave in good academic standing, unlike the federal rate, which includes only incoming freshmen and does not count transfers. The GSR and federal rate calculations measure graduation over six years from initial college enrollment.

Complete NCAA Graduation Success Rate data for all Division I institutions can be accessed at www.ncaa.org.


Graduation Success Rate (GSR)

Graduation Success Rate (GSR) begins with the federal cohort, and adds transfer students, mid-year enrollees, and non-scholarship students (in specified cases) to the sample. Student-athletes who leave an institution while in good academic standing before exhausting their athletics eligibility are removed from the cohort of their initial institution. This rate provides a more complete and accurate look at actual student-athlete success by taking into account the full variety of participants in DIvision I athletics and tracking thwir academic outcomes.

Federal Graduation Rate (FGR)

Federal Graduation Rate assesses only first-time full-time freshmen in a given cohort and only counts them as academic successes if they graduate from their institution of initial enrollment within a six-year period. It makes no accommodation for transfers into or out of an institution. The rate is very limited because it ignores the large number of transfer students in higher education, but it is still the only rate that allows a direct comparison between student-athletes and the general student body.