NCAA awards $900,000 Academic Grant to Southern University Athletics

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Southern University’s athletic program has been awarded a three-year, $900,000 Accelerating Academic Success Program AASP grant from the NCAA, which will provide critical support allowing Southern Athletics to enhance services for the nearly 400 student-athletes representing Southern in Division I competition.

University personnel across campus collaborated to help SU Athletics secure the highly-competitive grant. The 2015 program grant cycle contributed nearly $4 million to six NCAA FCS Institutions.

“We are elated to receive notification of this sizeable grant that will have tremendous impact for our athletics program, specifically for our deserving student-athletes,” said university President-Chancellor, Dr. Ray Belton. “It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the collaborative efforts across our campus community to bring forth an impressive award that ultimately lends essential support for our goals of improving academic success for students.”

Southern University Director of Athletics, Roman Banks expressed his excitement and appreciation to the NCAA and those involved resulting in the culmination of receiving the grant.

“I am thrilled for our university and especially for our student-athletes that the NCAA has chosen Southern Athletics to be a recipient of one of these prestigious AASP grants,” said Banks. “Academic Success is the highest priority for me as the Director of Athletics and also as a former Head Coach. I have a deep appreciation for our emphasis on academic success. Further, I am excited about the additional assistance this grant will provide to ensure that all Southern teams not only meet, but exceed the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) benchmark of 930 in the future.”

Executive Athletics Director and grant author Trayvean Scott was proud of the collaboration which resulted in the awarding of the grant, and excited about the opportunities it provides to Southern University student-athletes.

“We are very proud of the teamwork which resulted in Southern Athletics receiving such a wonderful grant opportunity. This grant will further solidify the academic foundation of Southern University Athletics with funding that will underwrite a myriad of initiatives which directly impacts academics, APR accountability and student-athlete well-being,” said Scott. “While the competitive success level of Southern athletics has remained steady, I know that our student-athletes, coaches, parents, administrators, and alumni share our belief that the main goal for our student-athletes is to perform well academically and ultimately, to graduate. The AASP grant will help sustain, and even improve upon, that expectation.”

The participating schools are required to match grant dollars each year of the program with either direct funds and/or in-kind contributions. In the first year the school must commit a 25 percent match, 50 percent in year two and 75 percent in year three. Sixteen FCS-level institutions have received grants since the program’s inception in 2012.

“The impact of the Accelerating Academic Success Program has exceeded expectations and the reach has expanded far beyond the Academic Progress Rate,” said Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement and chief inclusion officer. “The program’s success is an illustration of the transformation that can take place when adequate resources are combined with creative and strategic planning.”

The initiatives supported by the NCAA AASP grant include construction for a new academic center, updated technology, additional staffing, needed supplies, and leadership development and retention programming for student-athletes, said Scott. There are yearly benchmarks to reach to in order to renew the grant, he said.

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