May 17, 2007

The University of Notre Dame has received the American Football Coaches Association’s Academic Achievement Award for 2007, announced Thursday.

The AFCA annually honors the school with the highest graduation rate among members of its football team based on a particular entering class. Notre Dame shares the 2007 honor with Northwestern after both schools graduated 95 percent of its freshman class that began in 2001-02.

This marks the seventh time Notre Dame has won the award, second-most behind the 12 won by Duke University. The Irish previously won in 1982, 1983, 1984-tie, 1988, 1991 and 2001-tie.

“We are very excited to win this award for a seventh time,” said head coach Charlie Weis. “This goes to show how seriously we take academics at Notre Dame and how we truly intend on graduating our student-athletes in four years or less. This is a great tribute to the efforts put forth by our recent players and especially to the stellar job our academic services staff does here at Notre Dame.”

Notre Dame was acknowledged by the AFCA for the 26th consecutive year and was one of four institutions (Duke, Northwestern and Vanderbilt are the others) to achieve a graduation rate of 90 percent or better for student-athletes who began their education in the 2001-02 academic year.

Of 107 Division I-A schools that responded to the survey, 32 schools were named to the honorable mention list for achieving graduation rates of 70 percent or higher. Those institutions are: Alabama, Arkansas State, Ball State, Baylor, Boston College, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana Tech, Miami (Ohio), Mississippi State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Penn State, Rice, Rutgers, Syracuse, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, Toledo, Troy, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington State and Wisconsin.

Notre Dame has made the honorable mention list 19 times – tied for second with Rice and trailing only Virginia’s 20 times – while winning the award the other seven years.

The overall graduation rate for the 107 institutions that responded to the survey was 60 percent, surpassing the mark of 58 percent in each of the previous two years. Fifty-two of the members responding were above the average and 55 were below the average. The median graduation rate was 59 percent, compared to 57 percent for the last two years.

The study involves the freshman class from the academic year of 2001-02, including those who entered at that time but who did not receive financial aid until after their initial year, or who transferred from another institution and subsequently received a grant-in-aid.

The 2007 AFCA Academic Achievement Award will be presented to Notre Dame and Northwestern at the AFCA Kickoff Luncheon on Jan. 8, 2008 during the Association’s convention in Anaheim, Calif.