Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Air Force Academy Spirit

Falcon football team ranks 2nd in NCAA academic excellence

By Ken Carter

Editor

In a recent NCAA ranking, Air Force Academy gridiron athletes finished second in the nation in Academic Progress Rates following only Stanford University.

According to Academy Director of Athletic Media Relations Troy Garnhart, the NCAA rack and stack considered the overall performance of all 27 intercollegiate sports here with the “983” score reflecting the performance of the members of the Falcon football team.

According to a related news release recently from NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis, the Academic Progress Rates provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester or quarter by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete. The APR includes eligibility, retention, and graduation in the calculation and provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport.

Being both a gridiron sensation and an academic dynamo is often considered unusual … but, at the Air Force Academy, the NCAA scoring reflects it’s more like business as usual. When the NCAA recently announced the 2009 Academic Progress Reports, looking at classes from 2003-2004 to 2007-2008, the Air Force Academy’s performance was nothing short of a game-winning touchdown.

Academy leaders and faculty members alike are quick to acknowledge their pride in the Falcon football program and all cadets’ overall performance … but none quicker than the head coach himself.

“Student-athletes at the United States Air Force Academy must complete over 140 semester hours of the nation’s most demanding curriculum. The NCAA’s recent release of APRs for the 119 Football Bowl Subdivision playing institutions is another remarkable achievement by our cadets,” said Falcon head coach Troy Calhoun. “It’s also a sign of the incredible dedication of the Air Force Academy’s faculty to provide our cadets with the nation’s best access and instruction.  Academy staff members coupled with the quality of the cadets contribute to an environment that makes the United States Air Force Academy the world’s finest leadership and educational institution.”

Dean of the Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana Born agrees that it’s a total team effort.

“Coach Calhoun is providing phenomenal leadership in fulfilling our mission-he challenges his players to excel on and off the field. Football is just one example of how our faculty members partner with the athletic department as part-time assistant coaches, officer representatives, or tutors, while our athletic coaches reinforce high academic, athletic, military, and character standards. I think the cadets see that partnership and our commitment to their development in all areas. These APR Rankings are another validation of how we are all working together to build leaders of character at USAFA.”

The Academy is known for its tough academic workload and being an athlete doesn’t provide for any short cuts or easy outs.

A sampling of varsity Falcon football players’ majors includes: aeronautical engineering, management, astronautical engineering, systems engineering, military history, civil engineering, behavioral sciences, economics, social sciences, legal studies and political science.

NCAA ranking for the top five scoring a “10” – an APR of 90 to 100 percent were:

T1. Stanford (984)

T2. Air Force (983)

T3. Duke (980)

T3. Rutgers (980)

T5.Rice (979)

Sister service academies Army (967) and Navy (978) finished at 16th and sixth on the NCAA’s APR list respectively.

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