COLUMBUS, Ohio – When the Ohio State Buckeyes take the field on Friday evening for the College Football Playoff Semifinal vs. Clemson, one of their most impressive stats might be this one: 21 players on Ohio State’s roster are already college graduates.
In a season that saw the Buckeyes win their fourth consecutive outright Big Ten title and earn a second consecutive berth in the College Football Playoff, Ohio State is one of 10 teams this bowl season with at least 20 graduates on its roster.
At the end of the fall semester, a total of 10 football players earned their degrees. Included in that group were three that now have master’s degrees: captains Justin Hilliard and Tuf Borland along with QB Gunnar Hoak.
“At Ohio State, going to class is cool and getting your degree matters,” head coach Ryan Day said two weeks ago when discussing the team’s academic success on his weekly radio show.
While the on-field accomplishments of Ryan Day’s Buckeye teams have been impressive – 22 wins in 23 games – this one might be the most important: the team’s grade-point average has risen each of the last two fall semesters, from 2.73 in autumn 2018, to 2.81 in autumn 2019 to 3.19 in autumn 2020. The team’s single-year Academic Progress Rate score of 994 is its second-highest ever and raises its multi-year rate to one point shy of its highest score (986/987).
Ohio State also set a significant record in the classroom this past fall – it had 40 student-athletes honored with Academic All-Big Ten accolades. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be in their second year on campus and have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average. Three players – P Drue Chrisman, OG Gavin Cupp and TE Luke Farrell – were honored for the fourth time while five others – Borland, TE Jake Hausmann, LS Bradley Robinson, TE Mitch Rossi and LB Pete Werner – are three-time honorees.
The OSU Graduates
220 Degree Completion Program Graduates
In addition to the 10 active football players who became graduates in December, five other former players completed their degrees as part of the athletic department’s Degree Completion Program (DCP). Designed to provide academic and tuition support to student-athletes who have left school without completing their degrees, the program now boasts 220 graduates, 92 of which are former football players. Graduating in December were Alex Boone (history), Jeff Okudah (communications), Isaiah Prince (sport industry), C.J. Saunders (kinesiology) and Ryan Shazier (psychology).
Additional degree completion program graduates this fall include former baseball player Connor Curlis (sport industry) and former men’s hockey player Sam Jardine (communications).
“The Degree Completion Program is a commitment by the Athletic Department to financially assist those scholarship student-athletes to accomplish the goal of graduation,” John Macko, assistant director in the Student-Athlete Support Services Office, said. “It’s unfinished business for those that return and complete their degrees.”
Department-Wide Academic Achievement
In the most recent graduation data released by the NCAA in November, Ohio State student-athletes have a four-class average (2010-13) of 88 percent in the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and, in the 2013-14 cohort, held steady with a Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) of 74 percent, five points above the national average.
“Since the GSR was established, OSU’s GSR has improved markedly, reaching a kind of plateau of 86 percent from 2017-19,” said John E. Davidson, Ohio State Faculty Athletics Representative and Professor in Germanic Languages & Literatures and Film Studies. “Seen in that context, this year’s improvement by two points to 88 percent is truly significant. Our student-athletes are performing extremely well academically, and the entire department is focused on continuing to improve. Everyone from coaches to athletics leadership to academic staff take this as a point of pride.
“Still, the credit goes to the inspirational young men and women who dedicate themselves to being the best they can be as students and athletes.”