Tennessee State will receive a $900,000 grant from the NCAA to develop enhancements to increase the academic performances of student-athletes.
The grant will be distributed in $300,000 installments over three years. It is part of a $4.365 million program to help Football Championship Subdivision schools that were tabbed as “limited resource” institutions meet NCAA Academic Performance Program standards.
Division I schools in the 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. TSU was one of six schools chosen for a grant and just one of four to receive $900,000 — along with California State University at Northridge, Coppin State and Jackson State.
The Ohio Valley Conference, which is headquartered in Brentwood, had two member schools (TSU and Morehead State) receive grants. Four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were awarded a grant –— Coppin State, Jackson State, Norfolk State and TSU.
“This grant provides TSU an opportunity to expand its Complete College Tennessee Act activities to ensure that needed extra services are available to our student-athletes, who because they are constantly on the road, are not always available to take full advantage of our services,” outgoing TSU president Portia Holmes Shields said. “This grant will help us to ensure that these enhancements are available to student-athletes at all times, including having mentors and tutors accompany student-athletes as they travel.”
TSU currently has a 67 percent graduation rate for student-athletes. The grant will help the school develop a sustainable plan in order for teams to reach the Academic Progress Rate (APR) benchmark score of 930. The benchmark goes into effect in 2016-17 for limited resources institutions and the APR is the NCAA’s measure of eligibility and retention of student-athletes.
Selected schools must develop enhancements such as summer bridge programs, financial aid for summer school, funding additional staff, as well as improving facilities and technology for student-athletes.
The University plans to use the funds to enhance already existing student success programs such as the Academic Boot Camp and Excel-O-Rate summer programs. The programs provide mentoring and monitor participants’ progress for at least two years to make sure students have access to tutoring, advising, counseling and health-related services.
“There are so many challenges with retaining and graduating student-athletes within the APR expectation that a great deal of attention has to be paid to student services,” TSU athletics director Teresa Phillips said. “With this grant and the support of the university, we will be able to provide the needed services to meet our benchmark of increasing student-athletes’ graduation rate.”