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Commentary: Academics help Ohio State football program’s image

Andy Gottesman / Lantern photographer

Amid the biggest scandal in the football program’s history, there is a silver lining for the Ohio State athletic department.

A record 523 scholar-athletes were honored Monday night for academic achievements, including 40 from the “corrupt” football program.

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, who was drafted by the Oakland Raiders on April 30, was one of five male finalists for the Big Ten Medal of Honor for his success as an honors student in accounting and his on-field play.

OSU football also was honored by the NCAA on May 17, receiving public-recognition awards for the team’s academic progress rate from 2006–10. These awards are given to teams in the top 10 percent in each sport.

OSU football was one of 14 BCS schools that received this award. Northwestern was the only other Big Ten school to earn it.

Four other sports at OSU — baseball, men’s gymnastics and men’s and women’s tennis also were awarded for their academic progress rates.

For all the trouble the athletic department and football program are in, the coaches of each team have obviously set high academic standards for their players.

Absent from the list of BCS schools honored are football powerhouse schools from the SEC. The only SEC school honored was Vanderbilt, far from a contender in the conference.

OSU’s multiyear APR is 985, 15 points short of a perfect 1,000 and 36 points higher than the average of all Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

That the football team has attended a BCS bowl each of the past five seasons and that its players have exceeded 90 percent of FBS schools in the classroom, is unbelievable — despite the controversy surrounding the program.

Since 2006, the lowest score coach Jim Tressel and his football team received in the single-year APR is 984, which is still in the top 10 percent of all FBS schools.

In the same amount of time, Alabama coach Nick Saban has achieved a single-year APR of more than 980 just once. In 2007-08 he recorded a score of 936.

Tressel has been both a winner at OSU and a mentor beyond football.

When evaluating The Vest’s job status and his body of work, it is important to remember he has made sure his players lived up to their title of student-athlete.

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