Clemson football back-to-back-to-back in NCAA Academic Progress Rate honors

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

Dabo Swinney 2013 hsCLEMSON – College football coaches – and, really, coaches in many other collegiate sports – like to say success on the field and progress in the classroom go hand in hand.

It’s not always the case. But Clemson was identified as proof positive Wednesday, and the Tigers are making a habit of doing so.

For the third straight year, Clemson football’s Academic Progress Rate score ranked among the top ten percent of FBS programs, as announced by the NCAA with its Academic Performance Public Recognition Awards.

“One of the things we talk about with our players is developing to the best of their abilities in every area,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said in a release. “We have had consistency when it comes to graduation rate and academic progress.  It reflects on the team’s overall commitment to being the best.”

APR measures each scholarship player’s academic progress, factoring in eligibility, retention and graduation along with the team’s grade point average.

In 2012, Clemson’s six Academic all-ACC representatives trailed only Duke’s 21 in the conference. Center Dalton Freeman, who signed with the Jets after going undrafted in April, was the school’s first four-time academic all-ACC selection, and was joined by receiver Jaron Brown, kicker Chandler Catanzaro, tight end Brandon Ford, offensive guard Tyler Shatley and offensive tackle Gifford Timothy.

All 13 players from Clemson’s 2012 senior class graduated – the same class which won 36 total games, the sixth-most in school history and highest level of success for a class since 1991.

Last year, Clemson was one of 18 schools honored by the American Football Coaches Association for graduating at least 90 percent of its players.

Clemson, Alabama and Stanford were the only football programs honored for last year’s academics that also finished the 2012 season ranked in the final USA Today top ten.

Only Clemson, Boise State, Duke, Northwestern, Rice and Ohio State have attained the APR pinnacle each of the past three seasons. From that group, Clemson’s 21-6 mark over the past two seasons is eclipsed only by Mountain West power Boise.

“I want to thank the staff at Vickery Hall for their work with our student-athletes,” Swinney said. “Their level of dedication is reflected in us being one of the few schools to rank in the top 10 percent each of the last three years.”

Clemson’s golf program, which has the second-longest NCAA tournament streak in the country of 32 consecutive years, also has back-to-back years in the top 10 percent nationally in Division I golf APR scores.

“Both Coach Swinney and Coach (Larry) Penley create the proper balance between competitive excellence and academic success,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. “I am proud that these programs are leading the way for our Clemson.”

Of the 13 football teams honored by the NCAA, the ACC led all conferences with four members: Clemson, Boston College, Duke and Georgia Tech.

Rutgers, Missouri and Wisconsin rounded out the list for football.

Multiyear APRs for all Division I programs will be released Tuesday.