AFCA Academic Achievement Award
Members of the Touchdown Club of Mempis with 2016 AFCA Academic Achievement Award Winners
Pictured left to right: Bill Harper, David Shaw, head coach at Stanford, Pat Fitzgerald, head coach at Northwestern, John David Baddour
The Academic Achievement Award was originally established by the College Football Association in 1981 and was presented annually by the Touchdown Club of Memphis through 1997. The award recognized the CFA-member FBS institution with the highest graduation rate among members of its football team. The award and honorable mention plaques were presented each year at the CFA’s annual meeting in Dallas.
With the demise of the CFA, the American Football Coaches Association stepped in to continue to present the award, along with long-time partner, the Touchdown Club of Memphis. The AFCA uses the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) formula to select the winner each year. From 1981 to 2007, the award was presented based on a formula used by the College Football Association and AFCA. Since 2008, the criteria for the AFCA’s Academic Achievement Award is based on the highest NCAA GSR, at least 15 students in the GSR Cohort, and a Federal Graduation Rate of 75 percent or better.
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.
For more information on the Touchdown Club of Memphis, please click here.
Past Academic Achievement Award Winners
1982: Notre Dame*
1983: Notre Dame*
1984: Duke & Notre Dame*
1988: Notre Dame*
1991: Notre Dame*
1992: Boston College & TCU*
1995: Boston College, Duke & Wake Forest*
1996: Boston College, Duke & Vanderbilt*
2001: Notre Dame & Vanderbilt
2004: Boston College & Northwestern
2005: Duke & Northwestern
2007: Northwestern & Notre Dame
2009: Notre Dame & Miami (Fla.)
2010: Northwestern & Rice
2011: Boise State & Miami (Ohio)
2012: Northwestern & Stanford
2013: Georgia, Rice, Stanford & Tulane
2014: Duke, Northwestern, Notre Dame & Stanford
2015: Duke & Vanderbilt
2016: Miami (Fla.), Northwestern & Stanford
*- Presented by the CFA
Most Awards: Duke, 14; Northwestern, 9; Notre Dame, 9; Boston College, 4; Stanford, 4; Vanderbilt, 4; Miami (Fla.), 2; Rice, 2; Virginia, 2.
Most Honorable Mentions: Notre Dame, 26; Rice, 25; Virginia, 25; Boston College, 24; Penn State, 24; Syracuse, 22; Vanderbilt, 22; Wake Forest, 21.