The Bootleg's Graduation Rate Analysis

In today's collegiate athletics, the academic side of the equation appears to increasingly be but an afterthought. Be it football, basketball or baseball, many "institutions" in this country are doing a slack job of helping these kids get degrees, on both an absolute and relative scale. So here is our in-depth analysis of the latest NCAA Graduation Rate Report, with some shocking results.

We spent some time recently browsing the arcana of the NCAA's 2001 Graduation Rate Report.  Yeah, we know, we need to get a life.  But hey, Cardinalmania is our life, and we will pursue stories involving the Cardinal wherever that leads us --even if we have to shake the electrons off the dustiest volumes of cyber-knowledge on the 'net.

We started off just looking at graduation rates for Pac 10 schools.  But one thing led to another, and we couldn't stop there.  We just had to check out the rates at some of Stanford's competitors on the field and on the recruiting trail.  Know thy enemy, right? So we added a few more schools to our list.  Don't like our choices?  Too bad, it's our analysis.

And so, here are the results of the Bootleg's first-ever Graduation Rate Analysis:

Football Graduation Rates (Pac-10)
Stanford 83%
USC 65%
Arizona 63%
Oregon 61%
UCLA 59%
Washington 55%
Washington State 49%
Cal 48%
Oregon State 45%
Arizona State 38%
Football Graduation Rates (Others)
Northwestern 86%
Boston College 78%
Vanderbilt 76%
Notre Dame 74%
Texas 54%
Michigan 45%
Miami 41%
Georgia Tech 33%
San Jose State 33%

Bootleg comments:  Not surprisingly, our beloved Cardinal is well out in front of the rest of the Pac 10.  USC may be # 2, but USC is closer to 8th than 1st on this list.  Don't forget to look for Cal, down there among all the schools named "State."  And what's up with Georgia Tech's 33%?  Can't they at least graduate more players than Sannizay State?

Football Graduation Rates:
African American Players (Pac-10 Schools)
  African American Caucasian
Stanford 86% 81%
USC 61% 71%
Washington 59% 55%
UCLA 59% 64%
Arizona 57% 61%
Oregon 43% 68%
Washington State 40% 63%
Cal 40% 61%
Oregon State 38% 64%
Arizona State 24% 48%

Bootleg comments:  The Bootleg offers kudos to the first 5 schools on this list, which don't have a significant difference between African-American and Caucasian grad rates.  But look at the huge gaps at the last 5 schools... what in the world is going on there?  Somebody call Al Sharpton quick!  Wait, on second thought, let's not be rash...

Biggest Difference Between Football Grad Rate
and Overall Grad Rate (All Div 1A Schools)
  Football All Students Difference
BYU 21% 69% -48%
Michigan 45% 82% -37%
Texas A&M 33% 70% -37%
Georgia Tech 33% 69% -36%
Rutgers 38% 74% -36%
Cal 48% 82% -34%
Virginia Tech 46% 72% -26%
Auburn 41% 66% -25%
Michigan State 40% 65% -25%
Maryland 39% 63% -24%
Ohio State 33% 56% -23%
North Carolina 59% 81% -22%
Illinois 54% 76% -22%
Missouri 37% 59% -22%
Florida 46% 67% -21%
Wisconsin 53% 74% -21%
TCU 43% 63% -20%
UCLA 59% 79% -20%
Notre Dame 74% 94% -20%

Bootleg comments:  OK, just about everyone would expect to see schools like Auburn and Florida on this list, right? But who would have thought respectable academic schools such as Michigan and Cal would be among the biggest sell-outs in major college football? Anybody? Anybody?  As for BYU, which holds down the top spot on the list, it's been pointed out to us that a lot of their guys go on missions, which can delay their graduation.  But still... other male BYU students go on missions too, but they have a much higher graduation rate (74%) than the Cougar football team (21%).  It's one of those things that make you go hmmm...

Basketball Graduation Rates (Pac-10)
Stanford 100%
USC 50%
Washington State 38%
UCLA 36%
Oregon 33%
Washington 33%
Cal 18%
Oregon State 15%
Arizona State 13%
Arizona 13%
Basketball Graduation Rates (Others)
Santa Clara 83%
Vanderbilt 75%
Northwestern 73%
Duke 73%
Kansas 64%
North Carolina 60%
Kentucky 55%
Georgia Tech 27%
Maryland 19%

Bootleg comments:  Turning to hoops, we find exactly what we expected:  a Grand Canyon-sized gap between Stanford and its competitors (especially the ones in the Grand Canyon State).  The Cardinal's 100% graduation rate is at risk now (though the Cardinal still can maintain its perfect record if Borchardt and Jacobsen graduate within the next 3 years), but even at 90-something percent, Stanford's rate still impresses the heck out of us and blows away the competition.  Aside from Stanford, though, the Pac 10 schools' graduation rates in basketball are, in a word, pathetic.  And don't blame it on players entering the draft, because that doesn't come close to explaining the Pac 10's dismal showing...

Basketball Graduation Rates:
African American Players (Pac-10 Schools)
  African American Caucasian
Stanford 100% 100%
USC 40% none
Washington State 40% 33%
Arizona State 25% 0%
UCLA 22% 100%
Washington 20% 40%
Cal 18% 20%
Arizona 8% 33%
Oregon 0% 100%
Oregon State 0% 50%

Bootleg comments:  The numbers of basketball players are much smaller than the numbers of football players and it's hard to draw firm conclusions with a small sample.  But still, we wonder what's going on out there, especially in the state of Oregon...

Biggest Difference Between Basketball Grad Rate
and Overall Grad Rate (Major Conference Schools)
  Basketball All Students Difference
Michigan 14% 82% -68%
Cal 18% 82% -64%
Syracuse 17% 71% -54%
Clemson 20% 71% -51%
Colorado 12% 63% -51%
Tennessee 8% 56% -48%
Oklahoma 0% 46% -46%
Missouri 13% 59% -46%
Arkansas 0% 44% -44%
Maryland 19% 63% -44%
UCLA 36% 79% -43%
Oregon State 15% 58% -43%
TCU 20% 63% -43%
Georgia Tech 27% 69% -42%
Idaho 9% 50% -41%
Arizona 13% 53% -40%

Bootleg comments:  Memo to college presidents -- do you people have any freakin' idea what's going on in your athletic departments?  The underperformance of basketball players at these schools is shocking -- and we don't shock easily, ever since the Annihilation in Austin.  And of course, we would be remiss is we didn't mention some familiar names near the top of this chart . . . yup, Michigan and Cal again.  Gotta hand it to them -- at least they're applying the same standards across the board (if you can really use the word "standards" here).

Baseball Graduation Rates (Pac-10)
Stanford 76%
Cal 47%
Washington State 45%
Oregon State 43%
UCLA 41%
Washington 39%
Arizona 32%
USC 27%
Arizona State 19%
Oregon no team
Baseball Graduation Rates (Others)
LSU 41%
Georgia Tech 38%
Texas 36%
San Jose State 22%
Nebraska 20%
Florida State 19%
Miami 16%
Cal State Fullerton 16%
Long Beach State 8%

Bootleg comments:  Because all baseball players are draft-eligible after their junior year, there are significant forces pushing baseball graduation rates lower, especially at schools that produce a lot of draft prospects (such as Stanford).  Still, Stanford leads every school on this list.  And inquiring minds want to know:  which Dirtbag player had to go graduate and mess up Long Beach's perfect record?

Graduation Rates for Student-Athletes in
All Sports and for All Students (Pac-10 Schools)
  Student-Athletes All Students
Stanford 88% 92%
Washington 65% 70%
Oregon 63% 58%
UCLA 59% 79%
USC 59% 71%
Washington State 58% 59%
Cal 58% 82%
Arizona 55% 53%
Oregon State 51% 58%
Arizona State 46% 47%

Bootleg comments:  Stanford is well ahead of the rest of the Pac in student-athlete graduation rates, but you knew that.  The Bootleg notes that at seven of the ten schools, the graduation rates for athletes and for the overall student body are quite close (a difference of 7% or less). The three exceptions are the three Stanford wanna-bes -- USC, UCLA, and Cal.  They have high non-athlete graduation rates, but they just can't bring themselves to recruit athletes who can graduate at those same rates. Which is one reason they're only wannabes...

Biggest Difference Between Student-Athlete Grad Rate
and Overall Grad Rate (Major Conference Schools)
  Student-Athletes All Students Difference
Cal 58% 82% -24%
BYU 48% 69% -21%
UCLA 59% 79% -20%
Florida 49% 67% -18%
Clemson 56% 71% -15%
Texas A&M 55% 70% -15%
Michigan 68% 82% -14%
Oklahoma State 35% 49% -14%
Georgia Tech 56% 69% -13%
Virginia 79% 92% -13%
Wake Forest 73% 85% -12%
USC 59% 71% -12%
Virginia Tech 60% 72% -12%
Illinois 64% 76% -12%

Bootleg comments:  Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Golden Bear athletes...

Notes on the data:

All figures are taken from the NCAA 2001 Graduation Rates Report.  The NCAA measures the percentage of scholarship athletes who graduated from the given school within 6 years after enrolling as freshmen at that school.  Scholarship athletes who transfer into the school are not counted in this report (there is a separate report for incoming transfers). Scholarship athletes who transfer out are counted as non-graduates of the school, regardless of whether they graduate elsewhere.

The rates given above are a cumulative total for the 4 entering classes from 1991-92 through 1994-95.  Because the graduation rate cannot be calculated until 6 years after a class enrolls, there is necessarily a lag in reporting.  The athletes covered by this report would have been in the graduating classes of 1995 through 1999 if they graduated on a normal 4 to 5 year track.

We looked at the "negative differential" in graduation rates, that is, the situations in which athletes graduate at a lower rate than the overall student body.  Those figures are an indicator of which schools are bringing in athletes who do not really belong there, or who are not given enough support to succeed.  We did not compare schools with "positive differentials," that is, where athletes graduate at a higher rate than the overall student body.  Positive differentials are skewed in favor of schools with very low overall graduation rates, which leads to silly results.  For example, UTEP graduates only 37% of student athletes, but graduates an even lower 23% of the overall student body, so UTEP has a differential of +14%.  That's much better than, for example, Duke's differential of -1% (91% of athletes graduate, vs. 92% of all students). But come on, at 37% vs. 91%, there's no way UTEP is doing a better job than Duke of graduating athletes.   We don't think positive differentials are a good yardstick for comparing schools.

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