When a prospect signs a National Letter of Intent to play football at UCF, head coach George O’Leary offers one promise. And it has nothing to do with playing time or position on the football field.
“When we recruit the athletes, the one thing I promise them is that they will get a degree — if they want one,” O’Leary said. “I put it that way because it’s the athlete and the parents who are involved in the process. We do everything possible to ensure the kid’s success academically. A lot of programs give lip service to academics, but we follow up on it here and take great pride in kids getting their degrees.”
And UCF is doing just that at a rate that is among the highest of any football program in the country. They are able to ensure athletes of success in the classroom because of a highly structured, proactive program in place to monitor progress and promote learning.
Some 55-percent of the football team is on the Honor Roll with a 3.2 grade-point average or higher. Sixty-nine Knights played last season while sporting a 3.0 GPA in the classroom. UCF had a team-wide GPA of 2.99 just before last season. Seven UCF players from last season’s 8-5 team had already earned their bachelor’s degree before the season, which ranked 10th nationally.
And the most recent Academic Progress Rate scores released by the NCAA showed that UCF ranked 23rd in the nation and ninth in the country among public non-service academy schools.
UCF standout tailback Brynn Harvey said the system in place makes it almost impossible not to have academic success at UCF. Sessions with the advisers taught him how to manage his time in college and the tutoring program and study halls have helped him make significant progress in his hospitality management major.
“Coach O’Leary takes academics very seriously,” Harvey continued. “Academics are the first thing to come every day around here. It’s taken very seriously.”