by Tom Luicci
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 8, 2014) – Anyone trying to unlock the secret of Rutgers’ academic success in football will find it starts with a simple premise: The older players set the example and pass it on to the younger ones.
Eventually, it leads to a string of success – and rarefied academic football air.
Rutgers football earned recognition from the NCAA again on Wednesday for its latest multi-year Academic Progress Rate performance, the seventh straight year the program has earned that distinction for being in the top 10 percent nationally. No other state university at the Football Bowl Subdivision can make a similar claim (the actual APR scores will be announced May 14).
“It’s another sign of the culture we’re building at Rutgers football,” coach Kyle Flood said. “It’s one that the University can be proud of.”
And it’s the result of a lot of different contributing factors, including the work of Jenna Beverly, Assistant Director of Academic Support/Football Coordinator, and her staff.
But as Flood knows, ongoing academic success like this has to come from within as well.
“I think it’s something that the older players in your program have to model for the younger players in your program,” Flood said. “I think Jenna and her staff do a tremendous job and the coaches do an excellent job of making sure that we support the academic support system and the faculty.
“But I think one of the most important parts of the process is to have the older players in your program modeling the system for the younger players, understanding how important it is to be in class, to make sure you’re ready to go be in the study halls and take really full advantage of what is a very well put-together academic support system.”
The APR measures eligibility, graduation and retention each semester to reveal academic performance in each sport (Rutgers’ women’s golf team and women’s lacrosse team also received recognition from the NCAA for their academic showing). The latest APR scores cover the four-year period from 2009-10 to 2012-13.
Additionally, the Rutgers football program achieved a 2.96 cumulative grade point average, its highest ever, while seeing 43 players record a 3.0 GPA and 24 reach the 3.5 GPA threshold to qualify for the Dean’s List.
For Flood, it’s further validation that the Big Ten is the ideal marriage academically and athletically for Rutgers. The school officially joins the conference on July 1.
“I felt all along that when we were invited to the Big Ten it was the conference that we fit into,” Flood said. “I think the value systems that we have in place as a university and as a football program fit what the Big Ten was looking for. Excellence in athletics and excellence in academics and we always preached both of those.
“I think you can have both of those. Now for the seventh straight year being in the top 10 percent of the APR … it’s just one more sign that the conference we’re moving into is the right one for us.”
The next academic challenge, Flood said, is for a collective team GPA of 3.0 “which we’ve put forth as a goal for us.”