The NCAA has announced its annual recipients of the Accelerated Academic Success Program (AASP) grants as the University of Tennessee at Martin is one of the 13 universities to receive aid during the 2022-23 academic year.
The NCAA awards more than $1 million in AASP grants to colleges and universities with limited resources to help boost academic programs and initiatives, which tie to graduation and the overall success of its student-athletes. The AASP was established in 2012 by the NCAA Executive Committee, which is now the Board of Governors. AASP schools may request up to $100,000 in single-year grants as schools are required to match at least 20 percent of the funds and provide a detailed explanation of how the funds will be used.
This year’s AASP grant recipients are Austin Peay State University, California State University Northridge, Cleveland State University, Coppin State University, Delaware State University, Indiana State University, Nicholls State University, Norfolk State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Saint Peter’s University, Tennessee State University, Texas Southern University and UT Martin.
The Skyhawks are one of 10 schools who are repeat recipients of the grant as UT Martin also received a $100,000 grant via the AASP initiative in July 2019. The Skyhawk athletic department will receive $75,373 in this year’s grant, which will be used for continued academic support, equipment updates and continuing to emphasize the mental health aspect of student-athlete’s lives. Both grants were authored by associate athletic director for internal operations Ashley Bynum.
“I am grateful for the opportunity provided by the NCAA to fund additional resources and services for our student-athletes,” said Bynum, a 2013 UT Martin graduate. “We’ve received this award once before, which allowed us to begin our recent record-breaking run of highest Grade Point Average for the past five semesters. We have seen documented success because of this award in the past and I am confident that this award will be just as impactful.”
The initial AASP grant that the Skyhawks received was used to build a state-of-the-art computer lab in the main athletics suite. Opening in October 2019, the spacious room features 18 computers and is open during all lab hours. The area is commonly used for various team study hours and provides a space for collaborative work that also features supplies, nutritional snacks and drinks in a comfortable common area setting.
As a direct result, the UT Martin academic support staff has seen a significant increase in its student-athlete GPA’s. The upward trend began during the Spring 2020 semester with a 3.26 GPA and improved to a 3.28 GPA in Fall 2020. The Skyhawk student-athletes produced a 3.29 GPA in Spring 2021 before a 3.31 GPA in Fall 2021 and a 3.33 GPA in Spring 2022.
“I can’t thank my support staff and the grant department enough for their assistance with the proposal and the work they’ll do to make this a reality on campus,” Bynum said. “Our student-athletes deserve the best and I am hopeful that this will make a difference in their academic career while enrolled at UT Martin.”