Clemson Student-Athlete Graduation Rate Increases

The graduation rate for Clemson football players who entered the University during the fall of 1996 is 78 percent, 11th best in the nation among the 117 Division I-A schools according to figures released by the NCAA this week.

That includes a graduation rate of 89 percent among African Americans, the seventh best percentage in the nation among Division I-A schools.

The NCAA released its graduation rate data for student-athletes who entered school in the 1996-97 academic year. Clemson trailed only Rice, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Northwestern, Hawaii and Notre Dame when it came to graduation rate among African American football players who entered that year. Boston College, Duke, Stanford and Penn State were among the schools below Clemson's 89 percent figure.

Clemson would have had a 100 percent rate had it not counted a student-athlete who transferred just two weeks after school began and never suited up for a game. NCAA policies call for schools to count scholarship athletes who enroll and begin classes. The study also did not count two players, Mike Seth and Jason Gamble, who entered in January of 1996. Both of those student-athletes also graduated, but the NCAA does not count student-athletes who entered at mid-year.

NCAA figures examine scholarship athletes only. Student-athletes who transfer to other institutions, even if they leave in good academic standing and graduate from the second school, are classified as non-graduates for the initial institution.

As far as overall graduation rate among football players who entered that year, Boston College had the highest figure in the nation at 95 percent, while Notre Dame was second at 92 percent. Clemson was third among ACC schools with its 78 percent, trailing only Wake Forest (86 percent) and Duke (83 percent).

"These are good numbers, it is a testimony to the work that is being done by our staff at Vickery Hall," said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden. "Our coaches have emphasized academics since we came to Clemson and the results have been good. We certainly want to continue to improve and strive to have all of our players earn their degree from Clemson."

Clemson has eight players, including seven starters on the 2003 team who already have their undergraduate degree, tying the school record for active graduates on the same team. Twenty-seven Clemson football players have earned their degree before the end of their playing career since Bowden came to Clemson in 1999. That is the high figure for any five-year period in Clemson history.

Clemson had a 66 percent graduation rate for scholarship student athletes in all sports who entered during the 1996-97 academic year, an increase of 19 percent over the previous year. The graduation rate for student-athletes who entered that year was just six percent below the 72 percent graduation rate of the overall Clemson student body.

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