The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) released the annual NCAA Academic Progress Report (APR) on June 14, which shows that student-athletes continued to perform well in the classroom despite the challenges presented by COVID-19. The overall APR rate increased by 1 point (from the last publicly reported rate in May 2020) to 984. The football APR remained steady at 964. Click here for the full report. (Press release courtesy of the NFF.)
The NCAA also highlighted that more than 20,000 student-athletes have gone back to school to earn their degrees since 2003, including 5,863 football players – the most among all NCAA Division I sports. These student-athletes are typically not counted in the federal graduation rate or Graduation Success Rate calculations.
“The APR provides an important window into the success that colleges and universities are having in ensuring their student-athletes remain on track to graduate,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “Institutions are clearly investing in academics, and showcasing the top football programs allows us to highlight those programs that continue to go above and beyond in preparing their student-athletes for success in their careers after their playing days. The high graduation rate for college football players is a testament to everyone involved with our sport and their commitment to ensuring the future success of their players.”
The Top 25 Football Teams (2020-2021, Multi-Year Rate)
1. Columbia (1,000)
2. Clemson (999)
2. Mississippi (999)
4. Alabama (997)
5. Northwestern (995)
6. Rice (994)
6. Air Force (994)
8. Washington (993)
9. Dartmouth (992)
9. Elon (992)
9. Wisconsin (992)
12. Ohio State (991)
12. Cincinnati (991)
12. Utah (991)
15. Boise State (990)
15. Davidson (990)
15. Wake Forest (990)
18. North Dakota State (989)
18. Dayton (989)
20. Colgate (988)
20. Holy Cross (988)
20. Harvard (988)
20. Louisville (988)
20. Minnesota (988)
20. Pennsylvania (988)
A full list of APRs for each team can be accessed by using the APR searchable database.
When I searched Notre Dame in the database, the Football Multi-Year APR rate is 984 for 2020-2021, and here is the APR for all sports:
The NFF caught up with several of the head coaches and athletics directors with the highest APR scores. Here are their thoughts on the accomplishment (listed alphabetically by last name):
Mike Bloomgren, Dunlevie Family Head Football Coach at Rice
“I am so proud of every player who has come through our program over the past four years. Each has maximized the opportunity offered to them for a world-class education at Rice. They have continued this program’s legacy of excellence in the classroom while navigating through the added challenges of a pandemic and never let any setback, on the field or off, stand in the way of earning their degree.”
Troy Calhoun, Head Football Coach at Air Force
“We believe strongly in the power of education and how transformative it can be- not only for an individual life yet also for generations. And we are proud of the frequency that our program has been in the top ten in the country when it comes to APR for the accuracy that it measures for retention, achievement and progress towards graduation. The Air Force Academy has a challenging curriculum, yet remarkable academic support from our faculty combined with the commitment of our players are two of many reasons why we are annually amongst the nation’s best.”
Keith Carter, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics at Mississippi
“From a competitive standpoint, we are in the midst of the most successful period in Ole Miss athletics history, and it’s exciting to see the record-breaking achievements also extend to the classroom. Our staff works extremely hard to support the players in their academic journeys, and it’s rewarding for all of us when they achieve at this tremendous level. With the culture we have established at Ole Miss, we look forward to seeing these accomplishments continue for years to come.”
Lane Kiffin, Head Football Coach at Mississippi
“For our players to break records on the field and in the classroom in the same season shows remarkable commitment. The No. 1 APR score is a tribute to the type of young men we have in our program and the support that our staff has provided in helping develop them in all facets of the student-athlete experience.”
Peter Pilling, Campbell Family Director of Intercollegiate Athletics & Physical Education at Columbia
“The latest NCAA APR reflects the unwavering commitment our student-athletes have shown to Columbia. Even in the midst of a pandemic and having to spend a year away from the competition field, this report showed that attending and graduating with a degree from Columbia University remained a top priority for our student-athletes. Our athletics department prides itself on providing the best experience for each and every one of our student-athletes. The tremendous work of our Success Through Well-Being staff, led by Jessica DePalo strives to provide all Columbia student-athletes with the academic support, career development, well-being, mental performance, sports nutrition, and leadership tools they need to be successful both in their time here and in their careers to follow.”
Peter Roby, Interim Director of Athletics and Recreation at Dartmouth
“The academic performance of our football program is a function of the students on our team and their commitment to their academic success and the leadership of our program. Dartmouth attracts highly motivated students, and our athletes are no exception. Buddy’s leadership cannot be denied, and I appreciate the way he has prioritized academic success throughout his career.”
Nick Saban, Head Football Coach at Alabama
“My number one goal for the football program at the University of Alabama is to create value for our players - both on and off the field - by providing the guidance and necessary tools to help them develop personally and professionally. As a result, the team of staff we assembled to enhance our graduation rate objectives have enjoyed a consistent rise in the number of student-athletes leaving the University with at least one degree in hand. These yearly milestones have opened doors for countless student-athletes and dramatically increased the likelihood of a successful and fulfilling career and homelife. I couldn’t be prouder of the emphasis we place on academics as part of our student-athletes’ development and this latest round of APR numbers reflect those efforts. Even more satisfying, is witnessing first-hand our former players, many of whom were first-generation college students, passing the torch and prepping their own children’s future college experiences in an effort to continue the cycle of higher education.”
Dabo Swinney, Head Football Coach at Clemson
“From day one, the mission of our program has been to graduate our players and equip them with the tools they need to be successful in life. The success the young men in our program have had academically and professionally is a reflection of their hard work and of the commitment of so many people at Clemson to truly empower them beyond the football field. We believe that how you do anything is how you do everything, and it is not a coincidence that as our academic success has grown over the last decade and a half, so have our on-field results. The same work ethic, commitment and pride that our players put into football are directly applicable to the work they put into their academic pursuits, and our APR results show how committed our guys have been to our standard in the classroom.”
Tony Trisciani, Head Football Coach at Elon
“We hang our hat on ATTITUDE, EFFORT, and DISCIPLINE in everything we do. Our guys have embraced the program standards on and off the field and have developed winning habits that will take them far beyond Elon Football. The student-athlete experience and academic support staff we have is second to none. We learned a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cayce Crenshaw and our academic support staff have done an amazing job adjusting to the challenges over the last two years. The days of study hall with 30 student-athletes in a room for 90 minutes four times a week are over. It’s challenging for our staff to manage “guided study”, small group sessions and individual meetings, but our student-athletes are thriving. Each year our team must earn their names on the back of our jerseys by meeting academic goals. We have raised the goals each year and our players and support staff have accepted the challenge. We focus on winning habits every day. If we can WIN TODAY, the championships will come.”
Adopted in 2004 at the NCAA Convention as a more immediate measure of a team’s academic performance, the APR is calculated as follows:
· Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
· A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
· In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.
Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships. Typically, teams that scored below the benchmark would have to face penalties that encourage an emphasis and prioritization on academics. However, due to the current penalty suspension in place, teams will not be subjected to penalties this year. Last year, APR data was not released publicly, and penalties were not assessed.
Click here for an explanation of the APR.
About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters in 47 states, NFF programs include the selection and induction of members of the College Football Hall of Fame; the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta; Future For Football; The William V. Campbell Trophy®; the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments; the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award; and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Catapult, Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Jostens, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the New York Athletic Club, the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation and the Sports Business Journal. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork and learn more at footballfoundation.org.