Alcorn leads SWAC in graduation rate for athletes

Published 2:39 am Sunday, November 15, 2015

NATCHEZ — November has been a big month academically for Alcorn State University scholar-athletes. The school was recognized as having the highest athlete graduation rate in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

The NCAA official federal graduation rate data showed Alcorn achieving a 69-percent graduation rate in 2014-2015. The current statistics are based on a six-year period.

It was a five-point rise from the 2013-2014 graduation rate.

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“This collaborative achievement highlights our team’s commitment to winning in the classroom,” Athletics Director Derek Horne said in a press release. “We are extremely proud of our student athletes, coaches, academic support members and others who make academic excellence a priority.”

Three men’s programs, golf, tennis and track, achieved a 100-percent graduation rate. Women’s volleyball achieved 90 percent and women’s tennis reached an 86-percent graduation rate.

Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Jason Cable said Alcorn offers multiple services to assist athletes. One of these services is a unit called the Office of Athletic Academic Enhancement, which began last year.

“The focus is the student,” Cable said. “Our office really is the liaison between athletics and the faculty and staff on campus.”

Programs for athletes also include one for degree completion for athletes who left and have returned and one to help students who want to play professionally graduate.

In July, Alcorn also received a $900,000 grant from the NCAA to help increase academic outcomes for student athletes.

The national average, however, is an 86-percent graduation rate. Cable said Alcorn’s objective is to reach that, and beyond.

“Anybody that was below 100 needs help,” Cable said. “That’s our ultimate goal — to have a 100-percent graduation rate.”

The graduation rate is also important to incoming students or students who are considering attending. Cable said the graduation rate would give prospective students an understanding of academics and athletics.

“We want to erase the stigma that you’re an athlete first,” Cable said. “You’re definitely a scholar-athlete when you enter the gates of Alcorn.”