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Six schools selected for grant program pilot

By Marta Lawrence

The NCAA has selected six institutions to receive grants as part of a three-year pilot program aimed to increase student-athlete academic performance. The Accelerating Academic Success Program was approved by the NCAA Executive Committee in August with $4.365 million in funds that remained from the White Case Settlement.

In a very competitive application pool, grants spread over three years were awarded to the following campuses:  

•      California State University, Northridge for a total of $900,000

•      Coppin State University for a total of $900,000

•      Jackson State University for a total of $900,000

•      Tennessee State University for a total of $900,000

•      Morehead State University for a total of$360,000

•      Norfolk State University for a total of $330,000

The grant program pilot is designed to assist limited-resource institutions in further developing systems and enhancements that help schools meet the requirements of the NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program (APP), including increasing the graduation rates and academic success of student-athletes.

Division I institutions in the non-Football Bowl Subdivision and in the bottom 10 percent of resources as determined by per capita institutional expenditures, athletics department funding and Pell Grant aid were eligible to apply for the program.   

Institutions could request a maximum of $300,000 per year for three years.  The participating institutions are required to match grant dollars each year of the program with either direct funds or in-kind contributions. In the first year the institution must commit a 25 percent match, 50 percent in year two and 75 percent in year three. 

Grant recipients were selected by a committee made up of representatives from the NCAA membership and staff. The group considered several criteria including presidential oversight, involvement of key staff, goals identified by the institution, the institution’s ability to match grant funds, the demonstrated sustainability of the initiative, the institution’s history in APP, and institution’s infractions history. 

“As the academic expectations for Division I student-athletes continue to increase, the NCAA is proud to offer assistance to those institutions that have demonstrated need and a plan for using these funds to contribute to student-athlete success,” said NCAA Executive Vice President Dr. Bernard Franklin—a former HBCU president. “We hope these institutions will serve as a model for other schools as they seek to meet the new APR benchmarks. This pilot program is evidence of the NCAA’s commitment to the achievement of our member institutions and the student-athletes on their campuses.”

Over the next three years, the funds will be used to support new programming and expand existing programs through initiatives such as summer bridge programs, summer financial aid, and mentoring and tutoring. Institutions will also use the dollars to add additional academic staff and technology.

The Accelerating Academic Success Program will be administered by the NCAA staff. Each recipient will be assigned a NCAA staff liaison who will work with them over the next three years. 

Selected institutions will participate in a kick-off meeting during the 2013 NCAA Convention to bring key individuals from the institutions together with NCAA staff to discuss expectations, review next steps and develop a timeline. The institution’s president, director of athletics, faculty athletics representative, senior woman administrator and the contact person for the institution’s management and implementation of the application initiatives will attend this meeting.