As a proud Class of ’71 Xavier University graduate (full disclosure: I’ve never given them any money, then or now), I was of course thrilled to see the old alma mater on Page One of Tuesday’s New York Times.
Headline (in the dead-tree edition):
Xavier May Be N.C.A.A. Underdog, but its Scholarly Nun Is 77-0
Xavier, a Jesuit university in Cincinnati, is entering the N.C.A.A.tournament seeded sixth in the West Region with a 24-8 record. But Sister Rose Ann Fleming is a perfect 77-0. Since she became the academic adviser for Xavier athletics in 1985, every men’s basketball player who has played as a senior has left with a diploma.
What follows is a predictably heart-warming story about the good work Sister Fleming does in getting Xavier’s athletes an education. Relevant statistics:
The N.C.A.A. began tracking and publicizing the Academic Progress Rate (A.P.R.) for individual sports programs, by college, in 2004; those that fall below certain standards can be hit with penalties like losing scholarships. In January, Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged the N.C.A.A. to redouble its efforts.
The N.C.A.A. notes that graduation rates for basketball players have slowly risen in recent years and are slightly higher than those for the general student population.
But universities like Xavier are leaning more heavily than ever on academic advisers. Xavier’s basketball team has the tournament’s 11th-highest A.P.R., which measures academic eligibility, retention and graduation rates. And people there know whom to thank.
Tell it to Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson, who has long been on a crusade to spotlight the NCAA’s dismal graduation rate (latest salvo here).
Just asking, Derrick, but would it hurt to shift gears and give a shoutout to the Xavier Musketeers?
P.S. You think that nickname is weird? You should’ve seen the mural in the Campus Center Pub.