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by Matt Kupec

December 27, 2018

We have created an incredible multi-billion industry in the intercollegiate sports world of our colleges and universities.  Significant television and multi-media packages have been signed, major college football teams attract over 100,000 fans to their home games, coaches are making multi-million dollars in guaranteed contract money and elaborate athletic facilities are being constructed.  All of these actions are being done for the single purpose of providing coaches with the tools needed to win athletic championships.

The passion of following our favorite college teams is at an unprecedented level.

What about the academic standings of our colleges and universities?  The academic quality of our schools is often overlooked in the extensive coverage of the university athletic teams.  We all know that Nick Saban and Alabama has built an incredible football machine at Alabama but what about the academic ranking of Alabama?  Does anybody know where the University of Alabama ranks academically other than the administration, faculty, students and alumni?

Each year the U.S. News & World Report compiles a list of rankings of the colleges and universities in America.  The list provides a ranking – top to worst – of the thousands of universities.  The ranking has become standard by which all University’s compare themselves.

In the following chart we show the rankings of all colleges and universities who participate in the NCAA Football Bowl Series level.  These include the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, the Pacific-12 (Pac-12) conference, the Big Ten conference and the Big 12 conference:

Academic (US News & World Report) Ranking of Individual Schools in the NCAA Power 5 Conferences
National Rank          ACC            SEC          Pac-12      Big Ten         Big 12
#1-#19 Duke (8) Vanderbilt (14) Stanford (7) Northwestern (10)
Notre Dame (18) UCLA (19)
#20-#39 Virginia (22) Florida (37) California (22) Michigan (28)
Wake Forest (28) USC (22)
North Carolina (30)
Georgia Tech (36)
Boston College (38)
#40-#59 Syracuse (54) Georgia (47) Illinois (48) Texas (50)
Miami (FL) (55) Wisconsin (51)
Ohio St. (56)
Purdue (57)
Rutgers (58)
Penn State (59)
#60-#79 Clemson (68) Texas A&M (69) Washington (61) Maryland (65) Baylor (79)
Florida St. (70) Minnesota (76)
Pittsburgh (75)
Virginia Tech (77)
#80-#99 NC State (82) Colorado (98) Michigan St. (86) TCU (84)
Indiana (90)
Iowa (95)
#100-#119 South Carolina (112) Oregon (105)
Auburn (116) Arizona (110)
Tennessee (118) Arizona St. (115)
#120-#139 Alabama (130) Utah (123) Nebraska (134) Iowa State (121)
Missouri (133) Oklahoma (124)
Kansas (132)
#140-#159 LSU (142) Oregon State (144) Kansas St. (148)
Kentucky (151) Washington St. (146) Oklahoma St. (159)
Arkansas (155)
Mississippi (156)
> #160 Louisville (176) Mississippi St. (179) Texas Tech (189)
West Virginia (214)

Some interesting points from the chart:

  • ACC Has the Most Universities in the Top 40. The ACC has seven schools ranked in the top-40 nationally – Duke University, Notre Dame, Wake Forest university, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Boston College.
  • SEC Has the Most Ranked in the 100+ Category. By contract, the SEC has 10 of its 14 members ranked outside of the Top #100 nationally.  Only Vanderbilt, Florida, George and Texas A&M fall among the top 100 universities academically in America.
  • Private Schools Have the Highest Ranking. Four of the five conferences with the exception of the Big-12 have private schools holding down the top academic spot in their respective conferences, – Duke (ACC), Vanderbilt (SEC), Stanford (Pac-12) and Northwestern (Big Ten).
  • Most Private Schools in a Conference. The ACC has 5 members who are private schools (Duke, Notre Dame, Boston College, Syracuse and Miami (FL)
  • Fewest Private Schools in a Conference. Tie of only one school between the SEC (Vanderbilt) and Big Ten (Northwestern).

About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience.  He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership.  He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit.  He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels.  During his career he set 19 season and career passing records.  Two of which still stand – most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB.  Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC.  Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.