Among 36 sports monitored by the N.C.A.A., men’s basketball has the lowest graduation rates, with fewer than two-thirds of players earning degrees. But at Xavier, a Jesuit university in Cincinnati, Sister Rose Ann Fleming is a perfect 77-0.
Ever since the 5-foot-4, white-haired, 77-year-old nun became the academic adviser for Xavier athletics in 1985, every men’s basketball player who has played as a senior has left with a diploma, says John Branch in “At Xavier, Nun Works Out Players’ Academic Side,” a blog post for the New York Times.
Xavier is seeded sixth in the N.C.A.A. tournament West Region with a 24-8 record. “Sometimes, she’ll schedule an appointment or an academic meeting right in the middle of practice,” said Xavier Coach Chris Mack, whose team will play Minnesota in the first round on Friday. “I’ll say, ‘Sister, we have practice at 4.’ She’ll say, ‘No, this is important.’ ”
Fleming, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, has the ear of faculty members and cell phone numbers of the athletes. On occasion athletes will find her knocking on their doors or waiting outside for their return.
“She’ll wait in a blizzard if she has to,” said sophomore guard Terrell Holloway, who received a visit from Fleming when he fell behind in reading during summer school. “Whenever she wants us, she knows where to find us.”