Academics are a major part of the success of Middle Tennessee’s men’s basketball team, and this year is no different.
For the second-straight season, the Blue Raiders will enter the NCAA Tournament with a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 100 percent. They join 11 other teams – Duke, Notre Dame, Butler, Bucknell, Creighton, Princeton, Dayton, Vermont and Winthrop – as the only schools in the 68-team field that reached the 100-percent GSR mark.
“When you can equate high-level winning with high academics, it makes us feel really good,” MT head coach Kermit Davis said. “When you get mentioned with the elite company like Duke, Butler, Kansas, Princeton and some of those other teams, that’s just a great tribute to our players, our academic center and our culture of winning.”
In comparison to the other teams in the tournament, 63 of the 68 had GSRs of 50 percent or better, while 53 of them reached a 60-percent rate and 47 had a 70-percent or more clip, according to a study done by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The New Orleans Privateers and Oregon Ducks rank at the bottom, with GSRs below 40 percent.
Success academically is nothing new for Middle Tennessee and Davis. He has instituted a culture of excellence in the classroom, and in May the program will have graduated 52-straight student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility.
“I think it’s just our culture,” Davis said. “We are accountable with our guys every second of the day. The biggest thing is that with our program, the little things are big things and our guys have an ability to pay close attention to detail. Sometimes that prevents catastrophes from happening.”
The last Academic Progress Rate (APR), which was made public after the 2014-15 school year, saw the Blue Raiders enjoy a cumulative score of 976 over a four-year period and 980 for the 2014-15 academic year. The next APR will be announced in May, and MT is expected to have a four-year cumulative score of 980 and perfect 1,000 for the 2015-16 school year.
All of the success Middle Tennessee has experienced in the classroom has also been reciprocated on the basketball court. The Blue Raiders have won the most games in a single season in school history (30) this year as they prepare to take on Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament first round on Thursday. Their 30 wins put them on a list with Memphis, Louisville and Cincinnati as the only Conference USA schools to reach the 30-win mark in a single season.
In the 2016 tournament, the Raiders were one of just seven teams to win a tourney game and post a 100 percent graduation rate after their upset of No. 2 seed Michigan State. They joined Duke, Villanova, Notre Dame, Iowa, Butler and Kansas on that list.Read More