Coach Fitzgerald accepts award at the 2011 AFCA Convention.



Fitzgerald Northwestern is sharing the honor this year with Rice University. Both schools recorded a perfect 100 percent graduation rate for members of its freshman football student-athlete class of 2003-04. The award will be presented at the AFCA President’s Kickoff Luncheon on Monday, Jan. 10, at the 2011 AFCA Convention in Dallas.

Northwestern’s win is the sixth for the school. NU also was honored in 1998, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007. Since Big Ten schools first became eligible for the award in 1998, Northwestern has won twice as many times as the next closest programs (Duke and Notre Dame with three).


„This is an award Northwestern takes great pride in,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. „Our student-athletes work hard on and off the field because they realize the value of a Northwestern degree. Many thanks go to our tremendous support system led by our outstanding academic services staff, who allow a Northwestern student-athlete to reach his potential in the classroom.”

The Academic Achievement Award was established by the College Football Association in 1981. The award recognized the CFA-member Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institution with the highest graduation rate among members of its football team. When the CFA disbanded in 1997, the AFCA stepped in to present the award and conduct a graduation rate survey that encompassed all members of the FBS — including Big Ten schools for the first time.


Lapchick Study: For the second-straight year, Northwestern’s football program has earned specific recognition from among its bowl-bound peers from a Lapchick APR/GSR study, conducted by Dr. Richard Lapchick at the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at UCF.


In a study that looked at overall Academic Progress Rate (APR) and GSR scores with regards to race, Lapchick stated „If there were a national championship for graduation success rates among bowl teams, Notre Dame and Northwestern would have played for the National Championship. Both teams graduated at least 95 percent of all football student-athletes and at least 95 percent of African-American football student-athletes. If there were a national championship for APR scores, Air Force and Northwestern would contend for the National Championship, with APR scores of 988 and 986, respectively.”

This season marks the second-straight year Lapchick has included Northwestern in his studies’ „national championship” games. Northwestern’s specific scores were a 95 percent GSR for its football program, inclusive of a 95 percent GSR among its African-American football student-athletes.


Academic All-Big Ten: Northwestern football earned a program-record number of Academic All-Big Ten awards for the fifth-consecutive year, it was announced Dec. 2 by the conference office.

The football program broke its previous high with 32 honors (up from 16 in 2006, 18 in 2007, 26 in 2008 and 29 in 2009). Northwestern earned the most football honorees among its Big Ten brethren by a wide margin, leading the second-place total of 22 achieved by Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio State.



Photo: (author – Jacek Urbanczyk), Pat Fitzgerald`s Wildcats are bowl-bound for the third-straight year while also reeling in several academic awards.