TSU shows dramatic improvement in graduation rate among athletes - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

TSU shows dramatic improvement in graduation rate among athletes

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

For the first time in the history of the NCAA's APR Texas Southern University does not have any of its athletic programs in penalty phase according to athletics director Charles McClelland.

APR or academic progress rate, a yearly snapshot of a school's graduation rate in athletics, has been used by the NCAA for nine years.

"Back in 2008 when we took over we had the nation's lowest APR of all Division 1 institutions (346)," said McClelland in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.

"Our current graduation rate (among all athletes) is almost at 50 percent. With these numbers, if we keep tracking, we'll be over 70 percent which will put us (with) some of the best institutions in this nation."

The NCAA will not release the official APR numbers involving TSU until May.

McClelland became TSU's athletics director in 2008.

Prior to that he held the same position with Prairie View A&M.

McClelland has overhauled the way his school handles its student-athletes.

One example includes McClelland making sure all of the school's buses offer the internet, with many of the athletes using Skype to keep up with their classes.

Football had been at the center of TSU's issues with APR.

As recently as two years ago athletes in football at TSU had an APR that equated to a 15 percent graduation rate.

The graduation rate for football now is approximately 70 percent according to McClelland.

"This is huge," McClelland said. "Our football team was in postseason ban, reduction of scholarships, reduction of practice time and no spring football (this year) because of last year's APR and previous years.

"This year's APR for football is a 961, which equates to approximately a 70 percent graduation rate and that score was good enough for us not to have any penalties in football, and for the first time in the history of APR Texas Southern has zero of its programs in any penalty phase.

Each sport that does not have an APR of at least 925 may be penalized.

"We're very proud that our student-athletes are graduating at a very high rate," McClelland said. "Graduating our student-athletes is our No. 1 priority, winning championships is our number two priority.

"We had to take care of number one before we get to number two."

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