The College Sports Project, an initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has again shed light on the academic performance of athletes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s non-scholarship Division III. Wednesday, the project, now entering its fifth year, released its latest report, which includes information on more than 83,000 athletes at 84 institutions. Among the report’s highlights, female athletes have higher grade point averages than male athletes. In addition, athletes who were recruited prior to admission had lower GPAs than athletes who were not recruited and non-athletes at their same institution; this was especially the case at “the most highly selective colleges.” As the NCAA does not gather much academic data on athletes in Division III, the overview provided by this project is one of few insights athletics watchdogs have into the little-examined division. NCAA officials have criticized the project in the past, however, arguing that its small sample size prevents it from offering an accurate picture of academic performance within the large division, which has more than 450 member institutions ranging from large state institutions to small, selective liberal arts colleges.
Higher Education Quick Takes
For-profit higher education stocks plunged across the board Thursday following confirmation from the industry's biggest player that pressure from Washington and negative press would probably hurt the company's bottom line for the foreseeable future. Shares of Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, fell more than 23 percent to a 52-week low of $38.00 a share. Education Management Corp., owner of the Art Institutes and Argosy University, among other institutions, also fell about 23 percent, to $10.22 a share.
The tumble follows Apollo's late Wednesday release of earnings data for the fourth quarter of its 2010 fiscal year, which showed new enrollments ("starts," in industry lingo) falling 10 percent, to 92,000 students, and projected that new starts in the first quarter of 2011 could be down as much as 40 percent over a year ago. Phoenix had already announced plans to require a three-week orientation course for students entering with fewer than 24 college credits (it becomes mandatory on Nov. 1), and said that it would stop compensating recruiters in part based on the number of students they enrolled. But the projection that those and other changes would damage starts -- the major source of revenue growth for for-profit colleges -- and cut the company's profits in the short term led some analysts to downgrade their outlooks on the company and the sector. At the same time, some analysts praised Apollo officials for making changes that appear to emphasize student outcomes over the bottom line.
The University of Southern California plans to announce today that it has received two gifts totaling $100 million aimed at showing how technology is transforming academe and industry, the Los Angeles Times reported. The gifts, to be announced on the day that USC inaugurates its new president, C.L. (Max) Nikias, are designed to create a new cancer treatment focused on nanomedical research and a new building for high-tech journalism studies, the Times reported. The donations come from an alumnus and from the Annenberg Foundation, respectively.
A state appeals court in Louisiana ruled narrowly Wednesday that Tulane University acted legally when it shuttered its undergraduate women's college in its post-Hurricane Katrina restructuring, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported. Tulane closed Newcomb College in 2006 citing financial woes, prompting a lawsuit in which heirs to Josephine Louise Newcomb asserted that the closure violated the terms of the endowment she gave the university. But like several previous courts, the appeals court ruled, 3 to 2, that Tulane was bound by no such condition.
Officials at the University of Wisconsin-Stout said on Wednesday that they had permanently barred two players from the men's hockey team and suspended eight others for the upcoming season for violating the university's code of conduct for athletes -- actions taken after the two barred players were charged for their roles in a fellow student's death. The university's announcement said the players had been punished for violating the code's "guidelines for behavior, both on and off the field, including actions while engaging in high risk alcohol use." It referred only obliquely to the underlying situation that prompted the suspensions: the Sept. 18 death of a Stout student, which witnesses said came about when one of the hockey players -- after an argument in a local bar -- allegedly pushed the student off his bicycle and into a wall, causing fatal head injuries.
A longtime sports agent tells Sports Illustrated this week that he made payments to several dozen football players while they were in college, in violation of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. The "as told to" tale from Josh Luchs recounts his payments to numerous well-known and not-so-famous athletes (many of which Sports Illustrated was able to confirm), and it comes at a time when the issue of sports agents is quickly rising on the college sports agenda, amid recent controversies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Southern California, and other highly visible sports programs.
The repositories that house overflow books from the libraries at Ohio's 13 public universities are culling their print reference collections because they are running out of space, the Columbus Dispatch reported. The five repositories are working together to donate or recycle all but two print copies of reference materials statewide -- one that can be checked out and another that can be kept permanently in one of the repository, the newspaper said. Officials hope the "de-duplication" process will clear out space for other overflow books, since the state does not have money to build new repositories.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday let stand lower court rulings concluding that the University of California did not violate private Christian high schools' freedom of speech and religion by not certifying certain courses for its college preparatory requirements, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, without comment, as is its custom.
The revamped federal tax credit for higher education expenses has nearly doubled the amount of money flowing to American taxpayers, the Obama administration said in a report released today. The report was issued as President Obama plans a speech today urging Congress to make permanent the expanded tax credit, known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which was enacted last year as part of the economic recovery legislation. According to the report, which was prepared by the Treasury Department, 12.5 million students and their families benefited from the tax credit in 2009, about 50 percent more than took advantage of the two tax benefits that the expanded tax credit replaced. The average recipients earned a credit of more than $1,700, up about 75 percent over the average Hope Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit recipient in 2008. About 4.5 million recipients earned the new credit because it is refundable, which neither the Hope Tax Credit nor the Lifelong Learning tax deduction were.