Dec. 22, 2010
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Is it every a good thing for a football team that aspires to win championships, graduate its student-athletes, and - for those student-athletes who have the desire and the skill - provide the resources and experiences necessary to compete for a spot on an NFL to finish in third place?
Yes. Of course...particularly when finishing third means you rank third among your Big Ten Conference peers in the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate. That's the case for the football program at the University of Iowa as the Hawkeyes prepare for their date with nationally ranked Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl.
The UI established a new team record when the NCAA issued its GSR report last October. Iowa scored a 79 - five points better than what it scored in 2009 and four points better than its previous all-time best of 75 in 2008.
The 79 ranked behind only Northwestern and Penn State among Big Ten schools. Illinois and Michigan completed the top five. The 79 also ranks 12th best among the 70 teams that will participate in bowl games this season.
The NCAA established the GSR in 2004 and issued its first report in the fall of 2005. The GSR is different from the graduation rate calculated by the U.S. Department of Education. Both provide students a six-year window to graduate. However, the NCAA does not penalize institutions when student-athletes transfer to other colleges or choose to leave school early to pursue an opportunity with an NFL franchise , as long as they depart in good academic standing.
The commitment to academic success is one piece of a demanding four to five year puzzle for a student-athlete at the UI.
"Players who earn a college degree tend to have longer careers and get paid better. So, if you want to play in the NFL - and we have our fair share of young men who have that as a personal goal -- it's good incentive to get your degree and go from there."
"A few weeks back we had 25 seniors sitting in front of the team at our annual team banquet. It's tough to get to that position. We expect a lot in all phases...academically, as a football player and in how they conduct themselves. I have a lot of admiration for anybody that's a senior in this program," Ferentz said.
Iowa's continued success in the classroom comes at a time when the Hawkeyes are also competing at a high level against their Big Ten peers. As noted recently, the Hawkeyes rank second to only Ohio State in victories in league play over the last nine seasons.
"We've got 110 or so players on this team. None of them like losing football games. They didn't this year nor did they like it last year when we lost two. Our players are good guys who are fully invested and want to do things right...they want to win on the field and the want to win off the field," Ferentz said.
Ferentz also pointed to another fact that underscores the commitment the UI has to academic success.
"Players who earn a college degree tend to have longer careers and get paid better. So, if you want to play in the NFL - and we have our fair share of young men who have that as a personal goal -- it's a good incentive to get your degree and go from there," he said.
"I got to finish my last season with the guys I came in here with. I came back for the total package and I'm glad I came back," senior all-American Adrian Clayborn told the Iowa City Press-Citizen yesterday after Iowa's second practice in the desert.
"I got my degree last Saturday," he said with a smile.
IOWA, THE NCAA'S GRADUATION SUCCESS RATE, AND THE BIG TEN'S TOP FIVE
95 percent - Northwestern
84 percent - Penn State
79 percent - Iowa
75 percent - Illinois
72 percent - Michigan