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USA Today Announces Additional Scholarship Money for National Program

Jan. 28, 2002

story by - Melody Lawrence, NCAA -

INDIANAPOLIS---The number of NCAA member colleges and universities that will be honored for their exceptional student-athlete graduation rates through the USA TODAY - NCAA Foundation Academic Achievement Award program will increase this year.

The number of winning schools will grow to 12 from nine because the divisions have been expanded for the 2002 awards. Each of the dozen winning schools will receive $25,000, which may be used for scholarships in any program. The increase is made possible due to a gift of an additional $75,000 per year from USA TODAY to the scholarship program, or a total of $300,000 per year in academic achievement scholarships.

For 2001, three winners were named in each of these divisions: Divisions I, II and III. For 2002, a winner will be named in each of these categories: Division I-A, Divisions I-AA and I-AAA together, Division II, Division III.

"We believe this approach will add an exciting new component and allow institutions competing under the same scholarship rules to be evaluated with their peers," said Tom Curley, president and publisher of USA TODAY. "This provides us the opportunity to publicly recognize a greater number of the colleges and universities that are graduating an admirable number of their student-athletes."

This is the second year the academic achievement awards have been given and are possible due to a gift of more than $2.9 million that USA TODAY gave to the NCAA Foundation.

The gift was made to establish a program - the only national awards program of its kind - that recognizes colleges and universities in three categories: institutions with the highest student-athlete graduation rate above the average of the student body, institutions with the greatest increase in percentage of student-athletes graduating over the 1993 to 1999 cohort and institutions graduating the highest percentage of student-athletes.

"This change in awards permits greater recognition of the exemplary job that many of our member colleges and universities are doing in graduating their student-athletes," said Cedric W. Dempsey, NCAA president. "The NCAA can only compliment USA TODAY for its enlightened approach to telling the full story of intercollegiate athletics."

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