Many of the schools competing in this year’s NCAA football playoffs have found success both on the field and in the classroom, and Eastern Illinois University ranks among the top in academic success in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Among the 16 schools competing for this season’s NCAA Division I football championship, EIU’s student-athlete graduation rate ranks third, according to the latest NCAA release.
Specifically, EIU graduated 78 percent of its student-athletes that entered in the 2000-01 school year. Only the University of New Hampshire and University of Delaware rated higher in that category, with rates of 85 and 84 percent.
EIU’s numbers go up to 81 percent when looking at all student-athletes who entered that school year and earned a degree at EIU or transferred in good standing to another university. EIU rates sixth, with nine schools earning an 80 percent or better mark. Private schools Wofford College and the University of Richmond led the way with 94 percent ratings.
In addition, EIU senior defensive tackle Tim Kelly was recently named to the Academic All-District 5 team and will now be placed on the Academic All-America ballot.
The EIU Panthers will travel to No. 4 national seed Southern Illinois University on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. kick-off in Carbondale.
EIU is 8-3 on the year after a runner-up finish in the Ohio Valley Conference. SIU was 10-1 with a runner-up finish in the Gateway Football Conference.
Other first round match-ups include No. 1 seed Northern Iowa hosting New Hampshire, No. 2 seed McNeese State hosting Eastern Washington, No. 3 seed Montana hosting Wofford, Delaware hosting Delaware State, Richmond hosting Eastern Kentucky, Appalachian State hosting James Madison, and Massachusetts hosting Fordham.