We've heard some talk this week about the academic success of our football team prompted by an inaccurate report distributed to the media. While that information has been corrected, we thought it was important to weigh in on the topic of measuring academic achievement.
Rating the academic standard for current teams is difficult because of the delay between events and the data collection and reporting by the NCAA, especially around Graduation Success Rates (GSR). So third parties are left to use only historical data to draw conclusions about this season's teams, which isn't entirely fair to the current student-athletes working so hard toward their degrees.
Over the last two full seasons (2010, 2011), our football team has reached new heights on the field, bringing every Gamecock fan with them. Want to know what other heights the team has been rising to?
- South Carolina football posted its highest ever GPA in Spring 2012, breaking the previous semester's record, and has had a team GPA of 2.7 or higher for the last four semesters.
- The football team's APR (Academic Progress Rate), which is more of a real-time indicator than GSR, has been trending upward such that the program has a four-year average of 966 and a single-year high of 993 in 2010-11 - both numbers are the highest in program history.
- On the 2012 team, there are 10 student-athletes who have already earned their degrees.
- In the last two academic years (2009-10 and 2010-11), 50 football student-athletes have graduated - including two current NFL players who came back to finish what they started in the classroom.
We can be honest. A football GSR of 55 is not where we want or expect our program to be. But, let's see where our number is when the data catches up with the student-athletes that have been on the field the last several years. We're confident that the 55, which measured the freshman class entering in 2005, will represent the turning point for an upward trend in the GSR as well. How do we know that? We know Steve Spurrier.
Coach Spurrier and our academic staff have instilled a culture in our football program based on the idea that greatness in one area yields it in the other. The focus it takes to study film on an opponent is the same as it is to study for a pre-calculus exam. The discipline it takes to sit at a computer after a hard practice to write a five-page paper on the impact of the Civil War on the economy of the South is the same as it is to wake up early for voluntary conditioning sessions throughout the summer.
The student-athletes have clearly embraced the concept. The record-breaking academic numbers from the last several years listed above have come with an SEC Eastern Division title in 2010 and a school-record 11 wins and a top-10 national ranking in 2012.
"Coach Spurrier and his football staff as well as the academic services staff have worked extremely hard to establish a standard and to communicate expectations to our student-athletes," said Raymond Harrison, associate athletics director for academics and life skills. "There is a strong level of accountability, not only from the coaches but also from the student-athletes who understand the formula for success. The upperclassmen take pride in teaching the younger student-athletes the Carolina way - doing things right all the time and being consistent in your work ethic. This has transformed the program, and we are so proud of their academic achievements."
And, Gamecock Nation can be proud as well, not just of our football team's achievements, but of those of all our student-athletes.
Check out some of our Spring 2012 graduates last May!