Trojans Score Big Off the Field

The USC Trojan football program has become the barometer for success in the collegiate ranks in recent years. Coach Pete Carroll has pushed the Trojans to compete on the field, and the results have been astonishing: two national titles, the nation's best record in the last four years at 48-4 and four straight BCS bowl appearances.

However, the competition doesn't end when the doors at Howard Jones field close after a Trojan practice. Carroll and his staff also have pushed their players to compete and excel in the classroom. In addition to hitting opposing quarterbacks, the Trojans have hit the books with equal vigor and their hard work was on display in the latest release of the team's NCAA Academic Progress Rate.

The Academic Progress Rate (APR) is a measurement of student athletes' academic success and progress toward graduation. In the three years since the APR was introduced, the Trojans have exceeded the NCAA's minimum APR standard of 925. The NCAA doesn't release official APR results until January, but USC's projected three-year APR score is 945, which is one of the top scores among elite football programs. The program has improved its APR score each year -- the projected score for the 2005-06 school year is 981 out of a possible 1,000.

"We've always emphasized competition in our program. We want our players to compete not only on the football field, but in all of their pursuits. I'm proud of the way our players have balanced athletics and academics and I'm hoping they'll continue to strive for improvement," Carroll said.

In team and position meetings, Carroll and his staff routinely stress the importance of academic performance. Last year, three Trojans were named to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team, while another was awarded honorable mention.

USC is an elite academic institution, and the coaches make sure the players know that they are privileged to have such stellar professors and educational resources at their disposal. In addition, there are a variety of people in the athletic department who are dedicated to making sure the Trojans reach their academic potential.

USC Student-Athlete Academics Services (SAAS) is located just a few steps from the team locker room in Heritage Hall. SAAS promotes individual responsibility first and foremost, and is committed to helping the students with academic advising, career development, community service, tutorial programs and learning specialists.

But SAAS wasn't enough for Carroll, who is committed to "doing it better than it's ever been done." In 2004, he created a position on his staff to promote player success in the classroom. Terrell Ray, a former Trojan football player, keeps close tabs on players' academic performance and gives feedback to Carroll and the rest of the coaching staff.

People are starting to take notice that USC offers an unparalleled combination of academic and athletic excellence. On Aug. 27, CollegeFootballNews.com released a ranking of the top college football programs. The three-year analysis took into consideration APR, home attendance, quality wins and players drafted, among other factors. Not surprisingly, the Trojans were No. 1 by a wide margin.

The University of Southern California already offers sun, fun and a multicultural experience in the melting pot that is the city of Los Angeles. It also offers a challenge for each student-athlete to compete and make the most of their time in an elite football program and selective institution. As this year's APR scores have shown, the USC Trojans football team has risen to that challenge.


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