Coppin State receives NCAA pilot program grant

December 12, 2012 | WNST Staff

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Coppin State University is one of six institutions to receive a National Collegiate Athletic Association pilot program grant designed to assist limited-resource schools in developing and enhancing systems to increase student-athlete academic performance.


Coppin State will receive $300,000 in grant money each year for the next three years beginning in January 2013 and is one of only four institutions to receive the maximum grant amount.


“I am firmly committed to the importance of high academic performance by today’s intercollegiate student-athletes, especially in light of the challenges confronted by those who compete on the Division I level,” said University System of Maryland Chancellor William Kirwan. “This grant from the NCAA will help identify ways to support even better the academic performance of student-athletes at Coppin State, where the tradition of success in intercollegiate athletics is well-established.”


In August of this past year the NCAA Executive Committee approved $4.8 million in funding over the next three years for the pilot program. The Limited-Resource Institutions Grant Program Pilot will be administered by the NCAA national office staff and includes reporting requirements to hold institutions accountable for properly using the funds and to better measure the initiative’s success.


“News of the NCAA grant speaks to Coppin State University’s commitment to our student-athletes beyond the court,” said Coppin State President Reginald Avery. “This grant will enable Coppin State to support our student-athletes with enhanced technology, increased student and faculty engagement and additional staff.”


Coppin State completed a rigorous application process which detailed methods in which the University could enhance the academic performance of its student-athletes both in the short, and long, term. The NCAA also required a commitment from institutional personnel to ensure engagement and accountability from the University.


“This grant is in recognition of the wonderful work that Coppin State’s athletic department is already doing with its student athletes and that these support programs need additional resources to ensure each of our student athletes reaches their full academic potential,” said Coppin State Vice President of Administration and Finance Richard Siemer. “Coppin State is committed to providing matching funds during the period of the grant and sustaining funds thereafter.”


Division I institutions in the non-Football Bowl Subdivision and in the bottom 10 percent of resources as determined by per capita institutional expenditures, athletics department funding and Pell Grant aid were eligible to apply for the program.


Institutions were able to request a maximum of $300,000 per year for three years.  As part of the request, they are required to match grant dollars each year of the program with either direct funds or in-kind contributions. In the first year the institution must commit a 25 percent match, 50 percent in year two and 75 percent in year three.


Grant recipients were selected by a committee made up of representatives from the NCAA membership and staff. The group considered several criteria including presidential oversight, involvement of key staff, goals identified by the institution, the institution’s ability to match grant funds, the demonstrated sustainability of the initiative, the institution’s history in APP, and institution’s infractions history.


“This is an incredible opportunity for Coppin State University,” said Coppin State Director of Athletics Derrick Ramsey. “It’s just a tremendous shot in the arm for the athletic department. Aside from the revenue generated through playing guarantee games this is the largest infusion of financial support we have ever received. We have to be smart with it, we have to produce with it and we have to show results from it.”


During the application process Coppin State detailed eight initiatives which, if supported by the grant, would enhance the academic performance of its student-athletes. The initiatives included funding of summer school and winter session, hiring additional staff in the academic services area, the creation of a faculty enrichment program and peer mentoring program, purchasing technology that would create a mobile athletic computer lab for student-athletes while traveling, designating resources to support academic readiness, allocating funds to develop a broad based Academic Progress Rate plan, the development a fifth-year degree completion program to increase real-time graduates and the creation of a campus-wide Academic Progress Rate team.


“The most important aspect to me is the $90 thousand we have earmarked in each of the three years for the summer school and winter session,” added Ramsey. “In the past, we have been able to fund summer school and winter session through the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund, but that money has diminished in recent years forcing me to be very selective in who we could enroll in summer school and winter session classes. With this grant we are now able to include all of our student-athletes in these programs.


“Combining the grant funds with the Summer Academic Success Academy program basically allows us to fund our student-athletes for all four years. In the SASA program, the student-athletes can earn 10 credits as freshmen and then we can place our sophomores, juniors and seniors in summer school and winter session to ensure graduation.”


Ramsey views the grant as an opportunity to elevate Coppin State to new heights in the academic arena.


“Our goal is to graduate our student-athletes in three and a half years and enroll them in graduate school for their final semester,” he said. “We are going to work very hard. We are going to be more efficient and more thoughtful in our approach to making the most of this grant. This gives us more support, but we still need to be very strategic in terms of how we utilize the funds.”


California State-Northridge, Jackson State, Tennessee State, Morehead State and Norfolk State were the other institutions that will receive the grant in addition to Coppin State.