Rating College Football Teams Off the Field


This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Today we have the second of two reports about the education of college athletes in the United States. Millions of Americans follow college sports, mainly football and basketball. Schools with good teams are under pressure to win. But now they are also under pressure to do more to make sure their players get a complete education.

On January seventh, the two top college football teams will play in New Orleans for the national championship. Ohio State, rated number one, will play number two Louisiana State.

Privacy laws limit what schools can say about academic performance. Still, we wondered how these two universities support their football players off the field as well as on.

Stan Jefferson directs player development for the football program at Ohio State University. He says all the players can receive the same academic help. This includes, in their first year of school, required meetings of what is known as the Interactive Study Table.

This is a program in which players meet with a tutor before classes to discuss their work. Stan Jefferson tells us that players also meet with counselors who make sure they are progressing toward their degrees.

L.S.U. says on its Web site that football players there also receive extra help. It says one hundred tutors are available and can provide help in every subject.

We noted last week that the organization that governs college sports is paying closer attention to academic performance. Schools now receive an academic progress rate, or APR, from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. This number represents graduation rates for athletes on scholarships in each sport.

An APR of nine hundred twenty-five equals a graduation success rate of about sixty percent. So how are the top schools doing? Nine hundred fifty was the average APR for all the male sports teams in Division One in the last report in May.

Football teams had a lower average -- nine hundred thirty-one. Louisiana State had an APR of nine hundred forty-one. And the Ohio State football team had an APR of nine hundred twenty-eight.

Teams below nine hundred twenty-five must develop plans to improve their athletes' academic performance.

Good athletes often get a free education on a scholarship. Critics say it is only fair to these young players to invest in their minds as much as their bodies.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. The first part of our report can be found at WWW.51VOA.COM. I'm Steve Ember.