Macon, Ga. – The Atlantic Sun Conference had both of its Georgia schools rank among the top USA Today – National Academic Achievement Awards as released by the newspaper and the NCAA earlier this month.
Both Georgia State in Atlanta and Mercer in Macon were among the Top 10 in three different Division 1-AAA categories.
In the category of "Overall 1996 Freshman Student-Athlete Graduation Rate," Mercer was sixth with a 79 percent graduation rate amongst the 34 student-athletes that entered the program in 1996.
Both Georgia State and Mercer ranked well in "1996 Student-Athlete Graduation Rate Above Student Body Rate," as Georgia State's athletic department graduated at a rate 28 percent higher than the rest of the 1996 incoming student body. State's incoming class in 1996 was 43 student-athletes. Mercer followed at 27 percent higher than the rest of the incoming class for 1996. State ranked fourth in the category, while Mercer placed fifth.
The final category analyzed was "1996 Student-Athlete Graduation Rate Increase from 1995 Rate," with Mercer and Georgia State both having significant increases. Mercer's rate increased 31 percent, placing third in the category, only two percent off the top increase in the country. Georgia State increased by a percentage of 19, having the sixth greatest of those ranked.
This is the third year the academic achievement awards have been given and are possible due to a gift of $2.9 million given by USA Today to the NCAA. The gift was made to establish a program – the only national awards program of its kind – that recognizes colleges and universities in three categories. The winning institutions in each category receive $20,000 to use however they choose: as additional scholarships, to begin or support existing programs or for other purposes.