Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEC Grad Rate Lower Than Norm

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEC Grad Rate Lower Than Norm

Article excerpt

The Southeastern Conference prides itself on its national championships, but its member schools haven't excelled at graduating athletes.

That disparity brought together for the first time SEC faculty and athletic committee chairs to discuss higher education and athletics. The two-day meeting at Vanderbilt, which began yesterday, included speeches by SEC commissioner Mike Slive and NCAA president Myles Brand.

The NCAA's latest report for students who started as freshmen in 1995-96 showed SEC schools graduated 42.3 percent of their football players and 53.7 percent of their student-athletes. That's lower than Division I schools overall, which graduated 52 percent of their football players and 60 percent of their student athletes.

Only four SEC schools graduated football players at a better rate than Division I -- Vanderbilt, Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State. Vanderbilt, the only private school in the league, graduated 100 percent.

The worst offenders were Arkansas, with 5 percent of its football players graduating, and Tennessee, with 8 percent.

PRICE MEETS WITH UNIVERSITY OFFICIALS -- Alabama coach Mike Price met with university officials amid revelations of a free-spending night at a topless bar in Pensacola, and that a young woman tried to charge more than $1,000 in food and drinks to his hotel bill the next morning.

His fate could be decided at a trustees meeting tomorrow, months before he is scheduled to coach his first game for the Crimson Tide.

University President Robert Witt called a meeting of the board of trustees' athletics committee and other board members "to present and discuss his decision regarding Price's status as head football coach," a university statement said.

ELSEWHERE -- Clemson quarterback Willie Simmons, who lost his starting position to freshman Charlie Whitehurst last fall, will transfer. …

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