Clarksville, TN – While winning championships in their respective sports are a main goal during their time at Austin Peay State University, 17 former student-athletes reached what should be an ultimate goal for anyone entering college and that’s earning their degrees, which took place December 15th at the Dunn Center in the university’s winter commencement exercises.
Nine teams – baseball, football, men’s basketball and tennis (James Mitchell), women’s cross country (Molly Jordan) and track and field, volleyball (Kaitlyn Teeter), cheer and women’s golf (Morgan Gardner) – all had at least one former student-athlete receive their bachelor’s degree, with football (Dallin Bridges, Julian Franklin, Jerome Jones, Blake Schnieders), baseball (Chase Hamilton, Dre Gleason, Ryne Harper), and cheer (George Bezold, Tre Bush), men’s basketball (Domas Budrys, Ed Dyson) and women’s track and field (Mallory Crawford, Christiana Harris) having multiple former student-athletes graduate.
Along with the 17 bachelor degrees handed out, another former student-athlete – soccer’s Nikki Filippone and academic services Kara Carpenter received master’s degrees.
But having student-athletes graduate is nothing new for Austin Peay, with the department seeing it’s NCAA graduation success rate (GSR) go up for the eighth straight year and reach 82 percent in its last report for the organization.
The NCAA developed the GSR to more accurately assess the academic success of student-athletes. The GSR, which began with the entering class of freshmen of 1995, differs from the federal graduation rate (FGR) calculation in two important ways.
First, the GSR holds colleges accountable for those student-athletes who transfer into their school. Second, the GSR does not penalize colleges whose student-athletes transfer in good academic standing.
The federal graduation rate – which was 63 percent in its last report — does not account for transfers in or out of an athletics department. Additionally, the athletics department’s graduation rate was more than double the university’s graduation rate.
And while the whole department has been excellent in getting their student-athletes graduated, four teams have been among the best in the country, with women’s golf, women’s cross country, volleyball and women’s tennis all earning the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for having maintained their respective academic progress rate among the Top-10 percent of all teams in the nation.
While statistically it may never happen, hopes are someday all APSU student-athletes will not only hear the cheers while representing their respective sports, but also hear those cheers walking across the stage at a commencement and getting a degree.