The University of Alabama, the University of Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee State University, Northwestern University, the University of Utah, Utah State University and the University of Virginia will share the American Football Coaches Association’s 2017 Academic Achievement Award, which is presented by the Touchdown Club of Memphis. All seven schools recorded a 100 percent graduation rate for members of its freshman football student-athlete class of 2010. This is Northwestern’s tenth honor and Virginia’s third. Alabama, Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee State, Utah and Utah State are receiving the award for the first time. The award will be presented during the Honors Luncheon on Monday, January 8, at the 2018 AFCA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This year’s award marks the tenth time the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) formula has been used to select the winner. From 1981 to 2007, the award was presented based on a formula used by the College Football Association and the AFCA. Since 2008, the criteria for the AFCA’s Academic Achievement Award is based on the highest NCAA GSR, with at least 15 students in the GSR Cohort, and a Federal Graduation Rate of 75 percent or better.
Seventy-five other institutions will be recognized for graduating 75 percent or more of their football student-athletes. Twenty-two of those institutions — Boise State, Boston College, Bowling Green State, Central Florida, Colorado, Connecticut, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisville, Memphis, Miami (Ohio), Mississippi State, Missouri, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Tulsa, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Washington — achieved a rate of 90 percent or better. The remaining 53 institutions are: Air Force, Alabama at Birmingham, Arizona, Arkansas State, Army, Baylor, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Clemson, Coastal Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Fresno State, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kent State, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Navy, Nebraska, New Mexico State, North Carolina, North Texas, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Penn State, Rice, San Diego State, San Jose State, South Alabama, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas, Toledo, Tulane, UCLA, USC, UTEP, UTSA, Virginia Tech, Washington State, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The Academic Achievement Award was established by the College Football Association in 1981. The award recognized the CFA-member Football Bowl Subdivision institution with the highest graduation rate among members of its football team. When the CFA disbanded in 1997, the AFCA stepped in to present the award and conduct a graduation rate survey that encompassed all members of the FBS.
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.
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, 10; Notre Dame, 9; Boston College, 4; Stanford, 4; Vanderbilt, 4; Virginia, 3; Miami (Fla.), 2; Rice, 2.
Most Honorable Mentions: Notre Dame, 27; Rice, 27; Virginia, 25; Boston College, 25; Penn State, 25; Syracuse, 23; Vanderbilt, 23; Wake Forest, 23.