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USA Today Gives NCAA $2.5 Million

August 31, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ The NCAA Foundation has received a gift of more than $2.5 million from USA Today to establish a scholarship program recognizing colleges and universities that are graduating student-athletes at the highest rates.

The NCAA said Thursday that the donation was the largest single gift it has ever received.

The scholarship program will be known as the USA Today-NCAA Foundation Academic Achievement Award and will award nine scholarships totaling $250,000 annually for the next five years.

Schools chosen for the award will receive $25,000 each. Administrators at the winning colleges and universities will determine how to best use the scholarship money.

Competition for the award will begin during the current academic year, with the NCAA’s 972 member schools in all divisions eligible to apply.

The award will be based on three criteria: institutions with the highest student-athlete graduation rates above the average of the student body; schools recording the greatest increase in percentage of student-athletes graduating over the previous year; and institutions graduating the highest percentage of student-athletes.

``The NCAA has a strong tradition of emphasizing the importance of increasing graduation rates for student-athletes at all of its member institutions,″ NCAA president Cedric Dempsey said in a statement.

``We are pleased to have a tangible form of recognition for colleges and universities that are achieving outstanding graduation rates.″

More than $1 million will be earmarked for scholarships. The balance will fund an annual recognition event in Washington for the winning institutions and space in USA Today to highlight scholarship winners and publicize other NCAA Foundation programs.

``USA Today has long recognized those students who lead in the classroom as well as those who excel on the field of competition,″ said Tom Curley, president and publisher of the newspaper.

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