Gators Making the Grade

The University of Florida football team earned a score of 963 in the latest NCAA Academic Progress Report (APR), placing them among the elite academically to go along with their success on the football field. The Gators finished in the top 20 nationwide despite a critical coaching change in the first year that the ranking covers that usually has an effect on the rankings.

The report takes into account data over a four-year period, spanning from the 2004-05 academic year through 2007-08. The football team's APR of 963 places them well above the sport's Division I average of 939.

Of note is that the top 20 finish means the Gators rank among the top three in the SEC (Vanderbilt and Georgia, and one of three teams in BCS Bowls that were also ranked in the top 20 (Penn State and Ohio State). The fact that the Gators have reeled off two national championships on the field during the time span makes this a great feat.

"We take a great amount of pride in our team's academic success," said head coach Urban Meyer. "It's really a tribute to the commitment of our student-athletes, as well as our coaches and academic support staff."

Under Meyer's guidance, the football team has graduated 67 student-athletes in the last four years, including all 13 seniors from the 2008 national championship team. In that same time period, 107 members of the team have been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, including a league-record 37 in 2008. In addition, more than 32 percent of football scholarship players earned a 3.0 GPA in the fall of 2008.

The Gators continue the race on the field with their scheduled rivals. They also take their studies serious and look to be preparing their players on par or better to graduate more than most of the big rivals they play. The Gators 20th rank in APR is ahead of LSU (23), Alabama (28), Auburn (38). Tennessee (38), Florida State (80), and South Carolina (94). Florida also finished in front of recruiting rivals USC (30) and Oklahoma (34).

The 2009-2010 academic year will mark the first year Urban Meyer will be able to graduate all of his own recruited players and the numbers will seemingly rise much higher. The academic success is just another notch on the belt of a program that is all but unmatched since Urban Meyer took over four years ago.

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