March 10, 2011

North Georgia Athletes Impress in the Classroom

DAHLONEGA, GA – The athletes at North Georgia College & State University are excelling in the classroom as well as in competition, according to new data on Division II graduation rates released by the NCAA.

North Georgia's graduation rate, called the Academic Success Rate by NCAA Division II, for the 2003 entering class was 81 percent overall. That's higher than the overall average for all Division II athletes -- 73 percent -- and marks a steady increase in the percentage of North Georgia student-athletes who are graduating. The Division II Academic Success Rate is figured for cohorts, tracking a group from freshman year and allowing six years for degree completion.

Graduation rates at North Georgia and across the nation seem to dispel the myth that most student-athletes don't earn a degree. The federal graduation rate for the 2003 entering class of student-athletes across the nation was 56 percent while the general student body was 47 percent, a difference of 9 percent. North Georgia's federal graduation rate, which is computed a little differently than the Division II Academic Success Rate, is 63 percent.

Margaret Poitevint, an assistant professor of mathematics at North Georgia, is the faculty athletic representative for the university's Department of Athletics. She serves as a bridge linking athletics and academics on campus and is often called upon by coaches to find a tutor or other academic help for student-athletes.

"At North Georgia, the academic success rate for our student-athletes is even higher than the national average. I'm proud of our student-athletes and appreciate all the faculty do to help them succeed in the classroom," Poitevint said. "We want people to know that, in general, student-athletes and their coaches are focusing on academics and doing well in the classroom. In Division II, we feel like we have the perfect blend of academics and competition."

North Georgia Athletic Director Lindsay Reeves said she also is pleased with the dedication to academics from student-athletes and their coaches.

"We are proud of the commitment our student-athletes are putting forward to win championships at the NCAA Division II level and excel as students in the classroom," Reeves said. "The student-athletes at North Georgia are not only committed to winning in their respective sports, but they are focused on successful careers beyond their playing days."

This is the fifth year for reporting of the Division II academic success rate, which was developed by the NCAA at the request of college and university presidents who believed the federal graduation rate was flawed.

The Division II data is similar to the federal graduation rate, as it takes transfer students into account and removes students who left the institution in good academic standing. However, the Division II rate goes one step further and includes student-athletes not receiving athletic scholarships. The result is that the Division II academic success rate counts more than twice the enrolled student-athletes as the federal rate, including more than 34,000 who are not on scholarships.

Many of North Georgia's student-athletes are on partial scholarships, Poitevint said.

"What most of the coaches do, instead of giving one student a free ride, they spread it out," Poitevint said.

Several North Georgia athletes have been recognized by the Peach Belt Conference for their academic excellence.

In 2010, North Georgia baseball player Anders Oster, who earned a degree in physics, was honored by the conference as the 2009-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He also is North Georgia's career record holder in assists and double plays turned.