Student Athlete Graduation Rate Improves

Student Athlete Graduation Rate Improves
  • Opening Intro -

    Worries that students who attend college on an athletic scholarship may never complete their education is a concern.

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However, based on data assembled by the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), the graduation rate for student-athletes is on the rise and currently outpaces the rate for all students. The graduation success rate for student-athletes is now at 84 percent with virtually every demographic seeing some improvement.

Graduation Trends

NCAA Research released its latest “Trends in Graduation-Success Rates and Federal Graduation Rates at NCAA Division I Institutions” report last month. The Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) looks only at first-time, full-time freshmen in a particular cohort and only counts them as academic successes provided they obtained a degree from their institution of initial enrollment within six years. The FGR does not consider transfer students, but it is the only rate that can compare student-athletes with the general student body.

The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) takes the federal cohort and includes transfer students, mid-year enrollees and certain non-scholarship students. Those student-athletes that leave a school in good academic standing are removed from the cohort of their original institution, what provides a better representation of student-athlete success at the Division I level.

Division I Graduation Rates

The NCAA study found that the graduation rate for all students at Division I schools has increased from 58 percent in 2001 to 65 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, the FGR for student-athletes increased from 60 percent to 66 percent over the same period.

Notably, the GSR for student-athletes also continues to rise, increasing from 74 percent in 2011 to 84 percent in 2013. The report also found that since 2004 nearly 13,000 student-athletes who left school early eventually returned and earned their degrees.

“Supporting student-athlete success in the classroom is at the heart of our Association, and today’s announcement shows progress toward that goal that is nothing short of remarkable,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “We are delighted to see a record percentage of student-athletes achieve graduation, the ultimate goal of entering college.”

The success rate among certain subgroups or demographics has shown much promise too. Student-athletes in the Football Bowl Subdivision now graduate at a 75 percent rate, up four points in the past year. Increases were also seen among African-American students, men’s basketball players and among white female student-athletes.

The GSR Formula

The GSR formula is newer than the FGR, created in 1995 in response to college and university presidents who wanted student mobility factored in as part of its graduation rate calculation. These schools have also been working diligently to ensure that student-athletes complete their education even as they devote significant amounts of time to their sport. It also helps that the NCAA is pushing reform through its long-term Academic Performance Program penalties.

“More student-athletes than ever before are leaving college armed with a degree,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. “Our members continue to set higher academic standards, and student-athletes continue to meet them.”

UNC Scandal

The NCAA’s report follows on the heels of a widespread scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where the athletic department in collusion with some professors committed academic fraud to keep players eligible. This included directing more than 1,500 students to no-show classes or to take other short cuts. Critics say that the NCAA’s graduation rate encourages cheating with the UNC scandal just one form of it.

See Also — Tiny Utah College Has 23 Athletes at Sochi

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