Commodores balance academics and athletics

As Vanderbilt knows only too well it can be difficult to balance the pressure of maintaining some of the highest academic standards in the country with fielding successful academic programs. This recent success on the field is after all over 100 years in the making.

As Vanderbilt knows only too well it can be difficult to balance the pressure of maintaining some of the highest academic standards in the country with fielding successful academic programs. This recent success on the field is after all over 100 years in the making.

Thankfully though it appears that the 'Dores are melding the athletic success with academics rather than sacrificing one to achieve the other.

According to a recently released study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education the Commodores are graduating 74 percent of black athletes taking part in football and basketball. This is the highest number in the SEC and the fifth highest of the 76 schools who took part in the survey trailing only Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State and Villanova.

This study took into account graduation rates up until the class of 2010 (from 2007) which signaled the beginning in the upturn of Vandy fortunes. With the knowledge that James Franklin prides the academics of Vanderbilt above all other recruiting pitches it will be very interesting to see what happens to that graduation rate when his recruiting classes are taken into account. With the way Franklin addresses the issue of athletics it would surprise no one if the rate got higher, especially when you consider the intelligence level of this group both on and off the field.

"I'm happy and proud that Vanderbilt graduates its black male student-athletes at the same level that we graduate all of our student-athletes," said Vanderbilt Athletics Director David Williams to The Tennessean. "Our focus from day one when a young person comes in as a recruit is to let them and their family know that this is about the education, and at the end of the day, we expect that you will earn your degree, and we are going to do all we can to assist in that."

Worryingly the study found that despite the great work of Vanderbilt and its peer institutions the average rate of black male football and basketball players graduating was only slightly over 50 percent. This shows that the curse of the football factory schools still rings true and that too often kids get lost in the shuffle at these big programs with no support.

One thing we all know is that that will never happen on the campus at Vanderbilt.

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