The Bootleg's Graduation Rate Analysis

December brings chilly temperatures and heated credit cards, but it also brings new graduation rate data from the NCAA. It's time to find out who has been naughty and who has been nice! There is a substantive change in the methodology of the data this year, bringing inflation to many schools and the national average: transfers are now being treated with kid gloves.

For our previous Graduation Rate Analyses:

Click here for The Bootleg's 2005 analysis
Click here for The Bootleg's 2004 analysis
Click here for The Bootleg's 2003 analysis
Click here for The Bootleg's 2002 analysis

The Bootleg is pleased to present its annual analysis of student-athlete graduation rates.

This year, the NCAA has come up with a new measure of graduation rates: the "Graduation Success Rate" (GSR).  The Graduation Success Rate differs from the graduation rates published in prior years in the way it accounts for transfers.  In calculating the GSR, outgoing transfer students who leave a school while academically eligible no longer are counted as non-graduates of that school, as they were under the previous method.  At the same time, incoming transfers are included in the school's GSR calculation, which was not the case in the past.  Overall, this change in methodology has resulted in an increase in reported graduation rates.  For all Division I student-athletes in all sports combined, the change in methodology has increased the graduation rate from 62% under the old method to 76% under the new GSR method.

The NCAA is publishing this year's Graduation Success Rates in two parts.  The first set of GSRs, released on December 19, includes the Graduation Success Rates for each of a school's teams, but does not include an overall GSR for each school.  The overall Graduation Success Rates for each school will be published in the second phase in late January.  Likewise, graduation rates for the overall student populations will be published in late January, which will allow us to analyze the graduation rate "gaps" between student-athletes and the student body as a whole.

We've reviewed all of the major programs' Graduation Success Rates to compile lists of the top and bottom grad rates in each major sport.  As in previous years, we've focused on the Pac-10 schools, but we've also included some grad rates for other schools of interest to our readers.

The GSRs are based on the combined graduation rates for the four most recent classes for which data are available.  Those are the classes that would have graduated in the years 2000 through 2003, assuming a five-year track to graduation.

So, we bring you Part I of The Bootleg's fifth annual graduation rate analysis.  We will bring you Part II when the NCAA publishes the overall GSRs for each school in late January.

FOOTBALL

Football Graduation Rates: Pac-10
Stanford92%
Washington75%
Oregon63%
UCLA63%
Washington St.56%
USC55%
Oregon St.53%
Arizona St.52%
Cal47%
Arizona44%

The change in graduation rate methodology does not change the overall picture in the Pac-10.  Stanford still leads by a considerable margin, as it did under the old method.  Somewhat surprisingly, Cal's grad rate still languishes below 50%, even with the benefit of the new methodology.

Football Graduation Rates: Selected Others
Notre Dame96%
Nebraska85%
Florida80%
Virginia Tech72%
Michigan68%
Wisconsin67%
Miami67%
Ohio State54%
Georgia Tech53%
Florida St.52%
Oklahoma51%
LSU51%
Tennessee49%
Georgia45%
Texas40%
Alabama39%

For Division I-A student-athletes as a whole, the overall Graduation Success Rate is 76%.  For Division I-A football players, the overall GSR is 65%.  Those figures provide some benchmarks in understanding the performance of the major programs listed above.  It's not surprising to see programs such as Oklahoma and Tennessee performing poorly.  It's a little surprising, however, to see how badly Texas and Alabama lag behind other programs.

Top 10 Football Grad Rates: Division I-A
Navy98%
Wake Forest96%
Notre Dame96%
Clemson94%
Vanderbilt93%
Stanford92%
Northwestern92%
Air Force91%
Army91%
Rice89%
Boston College89%

The schools with the best graduation rates are mostly the ones you would expect.  Schools such as Stanford, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Vandy, and Wake Forest traditionally had high grad rates under the old methodology.  Under the new GSR methodology, the military academies are publishing their grad rates for the first time, and they have done very well.  The one surprise is Clemson, with a 94% grad rate.  Who knew?

Bottom 10 Football Grad Rates: Division I-A
Florida Atlantic20%
UNLV36%
San Jose St.36%
UTEP37%
Alabama39%
Texas40%
BYU40%
Hawaii40%
Minnesota41%
Michigan St.41%

UNLV and San Jose State keep showing up down there at the bottom of the list every year.  But the real surprise, as noted earlier, is that Texas and Alabama are down there with them.

BASKETBALL

Basketball Grad Rates: Pac-10
Stanford92%
Washington90%
Oregon St.60%
Washington St.54%
Oregon53%
USC44%
Cal44%
Arizona42%
UCLA38%
Arizona St.33%

Stanford still leads the Pac-10 in basketball grad rates.  Washington made a very strong showing with a 90% grad rate.  In general, the Pac-10 fared poorly, with seven of the 10 programs having basketball grad rates below the overall Division I basketball GSR of 55%.

Basketball Grad Rates: Selected Others
North Carolina82%
Syracuse75%
Santa Clara75%
Michigan St.73%
Gonzaga55%
Duke50%
Connecticut50%
Kansas43%
Kentucky33%
Georgia Tech31%
Maryland30%

When are the media going to realize that the Duke basketball program's academic story is a fraud?  Duke's grad rate is just 50%, which is below the overall Division I basketball GSR of 55%.  With the change in methodology, 50% is no longer a particularly respectable figure.  If not for the change in methodology, Duke would have reported a 40% grad rate.  The change in methodology has had the biggest impact on the teams with the worst grad rates in basketball.  For the most part, programs that had rates of 20% or worse under the old methodology have managed to improve to 30% or better.

Top 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
Wake Forest100%
Villanova100%
Illinois100%
Florida100%
Navy97%
Army96%
Pacific93%
Stanford92%
Rice91%
Indiana91%

With the change in methodology, several schools were able to improve their graduation rates all the way to 100%.  Congratulations to Wake Forest, Villanova, Florida, and Illinois.  Stanford's basketball grad rate did not benefit at all by the change in methodology, but Stanford still managed to finish in the top 10.  Note that Stanford, Wake Forest, Army, Navy, and Rice finished in the top 10 in graduation rates in both football and basketball.

Bottom 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
San Jose St.0%
Nevada14%
Iowa St.17%
UTEP19%
Minnesota20%
Arkansas21%
Houston21%
UNLV24%
Texas25%
Memphis25%
Hawaii25%

If the list of the bottom 10 basketball graduation rates looks familiar, go back and take a look at the bottom 10 football graduation rates.  There's a strong resemblance: six schools made both of the bottom 10 lists.  The sorry six are Texas, Minnesota, UTEP, San Jose State, UNLV, and Hawaii.

BASEBALL

Baseball Grad Rates: Pac-10
Stanford93%
Washington St.80%
Washington78%
UCLA60%
Cal59%
Arizona54%
Oregon St.54%
USC53%
Arizona St.46%
Oregonno team

Stanford makes it a trifecta, leading the conference in baseball grad rates as well as football and basketball grad rates.  Six of the nine programs in the Pac-10 (uh, Pac-9) are below the overall Division I baseball GSR of 64%.

Baseball Grad Rates: Selected Others
Rice93%
South Carolina69%
Florida St.68%
Tulane50%
Miami50%
Texas50%
Georgia50%
Long Beach St.47%
San Jose St.47%
Georgia Tech43%
LSU40%
Cal State Fullerton39%

As in basketball, the change of methodology has helped some of those schools that have reported the worst baseball grad rates in the past.  Still, the baseball grad rates at traditional powers such as Texas, Miami, LSU, and Cal State Fullerton continue to be weak.

Top 10 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Programs
Vanderbilt100%
Notre Dame100%
Clemson100%
Northwestern96%
Duke95%
Stanford93%
Rice93%
Baylor85%
Michigan St.85%
Florida82%

Stanford is in the top 10 nationally in baseball, basketball and football.  In case any one thought Clemson's strong grad rate in football was a fluke, take a look at Clemson's grad rate in baseball – a perfect 100%.

Bottom 10 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Programs
North Carolina St.34%
Kentucky37%
Nevada37%
Fresno St.38%
Oklahoma39%
UNLV39%
Cal State Fullerton39%
LSU40%
Houston40%
Oklahoma St.41%

These grad rates make it clear that the recent national championships at LSU and Cal State Fullerton were accomplished with players who mostly left school without their degrees.

Source: All figures are taken from the NCAA 2005 Graduation Success Rates Report.  All figures are "four class" graduation rates, representing the combined graduation rate of the four most recent classes for which data are available.


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