UT Athletics announces improved graduation rates

The University of Tennessee athletics department announced Wednesday a graduation success rate (GSR) of 76 percent for student-athletes who entered the university from 2001-02 through 2004-05, an increase of two percent over last year’s rate that included numbers from 2000-01 through 2003-04.

Four Tennessee teams reported a GSR of 100 – women’s basketball, women’s cross country/track and field, women’s tennis and volleyball. Five additional teams reported a GSR improvement from the previous year’s mark, including football (from 53 to 61%), men’s golf (from 57 to 67%), men’s swimming and diving (from 68 to 73%), women’s swimming and diving (from 85 to 90%), and softball (from 85 to 88%).

“Our priority on the graduation of our student-athletes is an obligation we all share within the Department of Athletics at the University of Tennessee,” said Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. “We will continue to strive to be student-athlete centered as a department with academic success as a constant focus.”

The GSR allows institutions to add scholarship transfer students that fit into their respective freshmen cohorts and remove those students that choose to leave and are academically eligible according to NCAA Progress toward Degree Requirements.

UT also announced the student-athlete federal graduation rate for the 2004-05 freshman class was 62 percent, the highest since the inception of the rate’s measurement. The 62 percent rate was also an increase of two percent over the 2003-04 freshman class rate of 60 percent. The student-athlete federal graduation rate for the four-year average was 62 percent, compared to a general student body graduation rate of 60 percent for the same time periods.

During the 2010-11 school year, 87 former student-athletes graduated from the University of Tennessee, continuing Tennessee Athletics’ commitment to excellence in the classroom. A total of 10 of those who have already received an undergraduate degree are competing for Tennessee during the 2011-12 school year.

A total of 240 student-athletes achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher in the spring of 2011, accounting for 52.9 percent of all UT student-athletes. Additionally, 18 student-athletes earned a 4.0 GPA during the spring semester. The average GPA for student-athletes during the Spring 2011 semester was 2.93.

Two student-athletes won NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarships: John-Patrick Smith (Tennis) and Nikki Fowler (Volleyball). Also, four student-athletes received CoSIDA Academic All-American honors: Angie Bjorklund (Basketball), Raven Chavanne (Softball), Nikki Fowler (Volleyball), and Chanelle Price (Track and Field). A total of 184 UT student-athletes were named to the 2010-11 SEC Honor Roll.

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.

“It is exciting to recognize success in the classroom,” said Donna Thomas, Director of the Thornton Center. “Data for the entire seven-year history of the graduation success rate shows women’s basketball and tennis have a perfect score of 100, and volleyball has done the same for the last five years. One of the goals of the Thornton Center staff is to build champions in the classroom, and I commend our student-athletes and staff for continuing to move in that direction.”

The breakdown of the University of Tennessee’s graduation success rates as compared to the federal rates for student-athletes who first enrolled in 2001-04 are as follows:

Sport GSR Federal Rate
Baseball 50 27
Men’s Basketball 40 36
Women’s Basketball 100 69
Men’s Cross Country/Track and Field 71 63
Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field 100 91
Football 61 56
Men’s Golf 67 50
Women’s Golf 71 71
Rowing 88 77
Soccer 92 71
Softball 88 57
Men’s Swimming and Diving 73 59
Women’s Swimming and Diving 90 65
Men’s Tennis 57 25
Women’s Tennis 100 78
Volleyball 100 77

The university encourages former student-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 remaining degree requirements, course scheduling, tutoring, employment and internship opportunities offered through the CHAMPS/Life Skills Office, and use of the Thornton Center for their academic and career needs.

There are currently seven former student-athletes completing degree requirements through the RAC program, a program that has assisted 53 former student-athletes with completion of degrees in the past six years.