The American Football Coaches Association recently honored the 70 percent
graduation rate of the Tennessee Vols' football team.
But to at least one former Tennessee player and UT graduate, Eric Lane,
there's more to the recognition than meets the eye.
"The athletics department has done an incredible job in the area of
academics," Lane said. "The Student Life program gets better and better,
year after year."
While a running back for Tennessee, Lane earned his bachelor's degree and,
as a fifth-year senior, started work on a master's degree in public
administration. Lane, who now plays for the New York Giants, said he spent
the off-season this year preparing to take the Law School Admissions
"I still have a couple of courses to go on my master's, but my real
aspiration is to go to law school and become an attorney," he said. "I took
the law school test in June."
The Vols have enjoyed a 70 percent graduation rate four out of the past 10
years. This June the Vols received one of 24 "honorable mention" awards
from the coaches association.
Northwestern University, with a 100 percent graduation rate, took the top
honor. In the Southeastern Conference, other "honorable mention" awards
went to Florida, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
"We are excited to receive the coaches association award," said Carmen
Tegano, UT assistant athletics director in charge of Student Life. "The
graduation numbers are a reflection of motivated student-athletes,
dedicated support staff and a faculty that understands the challenges
One of Lane's teammates, Reggie Cobb, turned pro before getting his degree
in urban affairs, but he is still pursuing his diploma.
Cobb's academic progress is closely followed by Tyler Johnson, who directs
a two-year-old program for the athletics department called "RAC" for
Renewing Academic Commitment.
Cobb, an NFL running back who played with several teams including Tampa,
Green Bay, Jacksonville and the New York Jets, is an RAC participant.
Tegano and UT athletics director Doug Dickey started RAC to encourage
former Vols to finish their degrees.
"The RAC program and our graduation rates in football reflect well on our
commitment to classroom achievement," Dickey said.
Johnson estimates that over the past couple of years he has had contact
with 80 or 90 former Vols about returning to school.
"Right now I would say we have 30 to 40 former athletes actually working on
their degrees," he said.
Football player actually graduates
Published: Fri Aug 28, 1998 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 01:34 p.m.