The National Collegiate Athletic Association released data yesterday on student-athlete graduation rates, showing that 79 percent of University of Michigan student-athletes who entered the University between 2000 and 2003 graduated within six years — a figure that is on par with the graduation rate for Division I schools nationwide.
The NCAA uses its own formula, known as the Graduation Success Rate, to measure the rate of student-athlete graduation. The United States Department of Education, meanwhile, uses its own model — the Federal Graduation Rate — to determine student-athlete graduation rates. The NCAA figures, unlike the Department of Education ones, don’t penalize schools when athletes in good academic standing transfer. So, typically, the GSR rates are higher than the FGR rates.
According to the government data, the University’s student-athlete graduation rate is 75 percent, outpacing the national average of 64 percent.
A recent University press release boasted that the six-year graduation rate for the entire student body was 89.4 percent — more than 30 percent higher than the national average for four-year institutions, according to the University’s statement.
The University’s GSR rate of 79 percent, however, is equal to the national Division 1 GSR rate for student-athletes.
In an interview last night, Athletic Department spokesman David Ablauf said the Athletic Department was pleased with the student-athlete graduation rate, but acknowledged they are always motivated to advance.
“(The Athletic Department) always strives to improve. That’s the key objective,” Ablauf said. “We place a high priority on graduating our student-athletes. The fact that we’re at the national average is good, but I think we always want to strive to do better.”
Student-athletes who entered college in 1998 were the first to be measured using the GSR. The University’s GSR peaked in 1999 at 87 percent. However, the data released yesterday is the first data set released under the NCAA’s stricter academic requirements, which were adapted in 2003.
Though he said he couldn’t comment on any specific reasons why the University’s student-athlete graduation rate dropped from 1999 to 2003, Ablauf said a possible reason for the decrease could have been coaching changes in various sports.
“I do know that during that 2000 to 2003 time frame we did have some coaching changes, which would’ve affected the graduation rate numbers overall,” Ablauf said.
The men’s sport with at the highest GSR graduation rate at the University, according to the most recent data, was men’s tennis, with a 100-percent graduation rate. While women’s field hockey, golf, softball and tennis all share top marks with a 100-percent graduation rate.
The men’s and women’s basketball programs — at 36 and 53 percent GSR graduation rates, respectively — are each the men’s and women’s sport with the lowest graduation rate at the University. Both programs also have the lowest graduation rate in the Big Ten in their respective sports.
The football program boasted a 72-percent GSR graduation rate, ranking 5th in the Big Ten. Northwestern University’s football program ranked first in the Big Ten, graduating 95 percent of its members.
Though the GSR data is only broken down by sport, the Department of Education FGR figures are broken down by ethnicity and gender as well.
According to the FGR data released yesterday, for student-athletes who enrolled in the University between 2000 and 2003, 66 percent of male student-athletes graduated, while 86 percent of female student-athletes earned their degrees.
The FGR data also shows 81 percent of white student-athletes graduated, compared to 69 percent of Hispanic student-athletes and 55 percent of black student-athletes.