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NCAA report on graduation rates out

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - NCAA president Myles Brand sees the
progress.
College athletes are earning degrees at record rates, according
to a NCAA report released Tuesday, and at higher percentages than
the overall student body.
Brand, who has made academic reform his top priority, was
encouraged by new NCAA figures that show 79 percent of all
student-athletes who entered school in the fall of 2001 have
graduated and 78 percent of those who entered college between 1998
and 2001 earned degrees within six years. Both are one-point
increases over last year's report and all-time highs.
Still, he acknowledges challenges remain as those who played
men's basketball, football and baseball continue to lag behind
student-athletes in other sports.
From 1998-2001 men's basketball players graduated at 62 percent,
while baseball produced a rate of 68 percent. Football Bowl
Subdivision teams had a grad rate of 67 percent, and the Football
Championship Subdivision came in at 65 percent. Women's bowling, at
68 percent, was the only other sport to finish below 70 percent.
"We are continuing to make progress toward the goal I
established of an 80 percent graduation success rate," Brand said.
"While there is still room for growth in some sports, we have seen
improvements."
White men's basketball players who enrolled in 2001 graduated at
80 percent, a one-point drop from last year's report. Black men's
basketball players, however, continued to improve, with 58 percent
graduating, a two-point increase from last year and up 12 points
over the seven years the NCAA has tracked the numbers.
To some, these are encouraging trends.
"I'm confident enough to say that we still need to work on
decreasing the gap between white athletes and African-American
athletes overall," said Richard Lapchick, who leads the University
of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.
"But this is really good news for college sports."
This is the fourth year the NCAA has released its own data.
Schools are required to send their graduation information to the
NCAA each year, and the research staff compiles the numbers.
The newest NCAA graduation statistics were significantly higher
than statistics compiled by the federal government, which showed 64
percent of student-athletes who started college from 1998 to 2001
graduated in six years. That's two points higher than the overall
student body.
Federal statistics do not include transfer students'
performances. For example, if an athlete enrolls at one school,
then transfers to another, neither school receives credit when that
athlete graduates.
Brand said including transfers increases the number of
student-athletes measured by 37 percent, and Lapchick said he
considered the NCAA's measurement a more accurate number.
Six schools graduated 100 percent of their student-athletes for
the one-year class of 2001-02, according to the report. They were
Alcorn State, Campbell, Canisius, Colgate, Manhattan and
Valparaiso.
More than 100 basketball programs and one football program -
Alcorn State - graduated 100 percent of their athletes who enrolled
from 1998-2001. Connecticut, Stanford and Tennessee were three of
77 women's programs, but only 27 men's programs matched that
perfect mark, including Florida State, Marquette, Notre Dame, Wake
Forest and Western Kentucky.
"I think increasing the initial eligibility standards means
student-athletes are better prepared to succeed when they enter
college," said Brand, who has made academic reform his top
priority.
During that same four-year enrollment period, 75 men's
basketball teams failed to graduate half their athletes, and 26
college football teams also were under 50 percent. A dozen women's
basketball programs had less than 50 percent, and just two - Kansas
and West Virginia - were from power conferences.
The numbers can be affected by players who turn pro before their
senior seasons and squad size - football has a limit of 85
scholarships compared with 13 in men's basketball.
The worst scores among the three major sports were produced by
Jackson State and two schools in California. Jackson State had a
zero; Fresno State graduated 7 percent and Cal State-Northridge was
at 8 percent, all in men's basketball. In comparison, the lowest
scoring program in football was Savannah State in Georgia (30
percent). North Carolina A&T and Florida International shared that
distinction in women's basketball with 38 percent.
The poorest performer among the nation's six power conferences
was Maryland, which had a 10 percent grad rate in men's basketball
after posting a zero last year.
Other notable findings were:
- More than half of the Pac-10 schools graduated fewer than 50
percent of men's basketball players. Those schools were Arizona,
Arizona State, Cal, UCLA, USC and Washington State.
- Nearly half of the Big East and Big 12 men's basketball teams
failed to reach 50 percent. Cincinnati, UConn, DePaul, Louisville,
South Florida and West Virginia in the Big East and Baylor,
Colorado, Missouri, Texas and Texas A&M in the Big 12 all fell into
that category.
- Arizona, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma were the only BCS
schools to graduate fewer than 50 percent of football players, but
only Arizona fell below 45 percent.
- Defending national football champion LSU had a grad rate of 54
percent; defending men's basketball champ Kansas came in at 64
percent.
- Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., was the only school
to graduate less than half its athletes in all three major sports.
- Gulf Coast schools' statistics might have been affected by the
Hurricane Katrina disaster, which hit three years ago. Among those
falling below the 50 percent line were men's basketball teams at
LSU, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi Valley State, Southern,
Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, New Orleans; and football
teams at Grambling and Southern.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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