BRISTOL, Tenn. – When King track and field student-athlete Ashley Ruth graduated in December, she did so with the assistance of grant money from the NCAA which helped pay her final semester of tuition. Ruth was one of 73 NCAA Division II student-athletes to earn an NCAA Degree Completion Award, a grant program designed to increase graduation rates among NCAA Institutions.
The grants are awarded on an annual basis to student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility, but have not graduated. Ruth completed her track and field eligibility last spring, and still needed a semester to finish her Elementary Education degree. "Without the grant, my final semester would have been more difficult," commented Ruth.
"It is very nice to know that hard-working student-athletes that have to stay in school an extra semester are given the opportunity to finish their degree," Ruth continued. "The NCAA Completion Grant made it possible for me to finish my last semester of running and made it less stressful for me not having to take out student loans."
The application for the award is very rigorous, as Ruth said there was a lot of paper work to complete, as well as letters of recommendation. Some of the requirements include that the student be within 32-48 hours of graduation and have at least a 2.50 grade-point average. Ruth was one of 73 Division II athletes to earn the award, and only one of four from the Conference Carolinas member schools.
"The NCAA seems to receive a lot of negative attention in the media," commented Director of Athletics David Hicks. "Billion dollar television contracts, amateurism, and education don't always seems to go together, but this grant is one of many funded by the NCAA that are a great benefit for student-athletes."
The NCAA funds dozens of grants to member institutions and student-athletes on an annual basis, including the Degree Completion Grant, grants for educational programs and speakers on campus, grants which fund internships, as well as grants which promote diversity and community service. All of the money to fund the grants comes from the NCAA contract with CBS for the Men's Basketball Championships.
Ruth graduated from King in December, and is currently looking for a teaching job in Tennessee.
For more information on the NCAA Division II Degree Completion Award Program, click here.