Published on April 5, 2005 by William Nunnelley  

Samford University is tied for seventh place nationally with Harvard, the U.S. Naval Academy and Bradley in its Academic Progress Rate (APR) for student-athletes. It ranks first among Division I schools in Alabama and first in its conference, the Ohio Valley.

The APR is the new system being used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to track how many student-athletes are staying in college and making adequate progress toward their degrees. All 328 Division I schools were rated, and a score of 925 was the cutoff point between schools making adequate progress and those projected to graduate less than half their athletes. Samford's APR was 990, the same as Harvard, the Naval Academy and Bradley. Yale was first at 999, followed by Princeton at 994, Pennsylvania at 993, William and Mary at 992 and Loyola Marymount and Villanova, tied at 991.

"However much we love sports, at heart, Samford is a university, not just an athletic franchise," said Samford President Thomas E. Corts. "Samford's outstanding rating is a tribute to our players, coaches and staff who accept the limitations imposed by our requirement of high standards of academics and character. As the only Division I program in Alabama that does not permit nonqualifiers or partial qualifiers, Samford may pay a price in terms of sheer athletic success, but we are a stronger university for it!"

Samford also ranks first among the 12 Baptist-affiliated schools participating in Division I athletics, and first in the schools ranked in the top seven in Samford's category by U.S. News & World Report of master's degree universities in the South. Schools below the 925 line face possible loss of athletic scholarships, but that won't happen until a second year of APR scores is factored in. Scholarship losses will be based on the two-year average in specific sports.

NCAA President Myles Brand called the implementation of the new system "the most far-reaching academic reform in decades." It reflects a concern on the part of university presidents that student-athletes be recruited who are capable of doing college-level work, and that they make adequate academic progress and graduate. Some schools might face the loss of athletic scholarships in particular sports, but Samford does not, according to Samford Athletics Director Bob Roller.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.