Dec. 10, 2009

WACO, Texas – The University of Notre Dame football program was named recipient of the 2009 Academic Achievement Award from the American Football Coaches Association, the AFCA announced Thursday. The trophy, won for the eighth time by Notre Dame, recognizes graduate rate successes on the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level.

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 2009 honor with Miami (Fla.) after both schools graduated 100 percent of its freshman class that began in 2002.

The Irish were also honored with the award in 1982, 1983, 1984-tie, 1988, 1991, 2001-tie and 2007-tie. Only Duke has claimed the award more times than Notre Dame.

This year’s award marks the second 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 AFCA.

Thirty-nine other institutions will be recognized for graduating 75 percent or more of their football student-athletes. Nine of those institutions — Alabama, Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, Navy, Northwestern, Penn State, Rice, Southern Mississippi — achieved a rate of 90 percent or better. The remaining 30 institutions are: Air Force, Army, Central Florida, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Marshall, Memphis, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Oklahoma State, Rutgers, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Troy, Tulane, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Washington and West Virginia.

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. The NCAA also calculates the federal graduation rate for student-athletes because it is the only rate by which to compare student-athletes to the general student body.