The Bootleg's 2012 Graduation Rate Analysis

"fictio cedit veritati"
"The Vanguards of Veritas"
Posted May 3, 2012


It wouldn't be spring without The Bootleg's annual graduation rate analysis! Disturbingly, the Cal Bears continue to embarrass their otherwise well-regarded institution and their ever-enabling Old Blue alumni with an inability to graduate their student-athletes. As usual, we flip the lights on and expose the latest set of data from the NCAA. Let the college sports administrator cockroaches scurry!

For the eleventh straight year, The Bootleg presents its analysis of student-athlete graduation rates.

Once again, The Bootleg is taking a hard look at the graduation rates for the three major sports – football, basketball, and baseball – as well as overall graduation rates for student-athletes.

We have prepared "top 10" and "bottom 10" graduation rate lists for the major programs in each sport. We also give you all of the football and basketball graduation rates for each school in the six major conferences, conference by conference. We've added the graduation rates for some additional schools of interest.

This analysis includes our exclusive list of the schools with the biggest "graduation rate gaps" in football and baseball – that is, the biggest gaps between the student-athlete graduation rate and the overall student body graduation rate. You won't find this analysis anywhere else.

We use the "Graduation Success Rates" (GSRs) from the NCAA's 2011 graduation rate report. The Graduation Success Rate is the percentage of athletes who graduated within six years after starting college, with an important exception – outgoing transfers and other departures don't count in the calculation, so long as they were in good academic standing when they left. Ignoring outgoing transfers has the predictable effect of making graduation rates look higher than they were under the old method. Of course, making graduation rates look higher without having to actually change anything was the whole point of the GSRs. But the Graduation Success Rates have been widely used by the schools and the media, so we are using them here. We do refer to the old "federal graduation rates" in some places where it seems relevant.

GSRs are "four class" graduation rates – that is, they are the combined graduation rates for the four most recent classes for which information has been reported. This analysis covers graduation rates for the classes that reached the end of their six-year graduation windows in the years 2007 through 2010.

FOOTBALL

Football Graduation Rates: Pac-12
Stanford87%
Washington76%
Arizona St.64%
Oregon63%
Washington St.62%
Utah62%
USC61%
Oregon St.60%
Colorado59%
UCLA59%
Cal54%
Arizona48%

Stanford leads the Pac-12 in football graduation rates again, as it does every year. Stanford expanded its lead over Washington from 4 percentage points to 11 percentage points. The biggest movement on the list came from Cal, and not in a good way. Cal dropped from 65% last year, which was third in the conference, to 54%, which ranks a weak eleventh. The most recent class Cal class to be included in the GSR stats had a grad rate of just 31%, dragging Cal's average down. Remember all the publicity a few years ago about Jeff Tedford's “academic game plan”? We haven’t heard much about that lately.

Football Graduation Rates: Big Ten
Northwestern94%
Penn St.87%
Iowa83%
Illinois76%
Michigan71%
Nebraska67%
Ohio St.67%
Indiana66%
Wisconsin66%
Michigan St.62%
Minnesota59%
Purdue59%

Northwestern leads the Big Ten once again. The traditional bottom-dwellers in Big Ten football grad rates, Minnesota and Michigan State, were joined by a newcomer to the bottom rung – Purdue. However, what you don't see in these GSR numbers is that Michigan State loses a lot of transfers. Because of the transfers, the Spartans' "federal graduation rate" is only 42%, the lowest in the Big Ten.

Football Graduation Rates: SEC
Vanderbilt86%
LSU77%
Florida76%
Alabama69%
Georgia65%
Auburn63%
Mississippi St.62%
Kentucky61%
Tennessee61%
Arkansas56%
South Carolina55%
Mississippi54%

Vanderbilt continues lead the SEC in football grad rates. No surprise there. LSU and Florida are next with reported GSRs of 77% and 76%, which is somewhat of a surprise to us. Part of the reason LSU and Florida reported relatively high grad rates is that they don't have to count all the transfers they lost. These two programs churn through a remarkable number of transfers. With outgoing transfers taken into account, both LSU and Florida have a "federal graduation rate" of just 48% -- almost 30 percentage points lower than their reported GSRs. Now you can see why the football factories lobbied the NCAA to adopt the factory-friendly GSR system of measuring graduation rates.

Football Graduation Rates: Big 12
Texas Tech68%
Missouri66%
Oklahoma St.65%
Iowa St.63%
Kansas St.62%
Baylor62%
Kansas59%
Texas A&M59%
Texas57%
Oklahoma48%

In Lake Wobegon, all the children are above average. In the Big 12, all the graduation rates are below average. Well, almost. The overall graduation rate for all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools is 67%. Only one Big 12 school finished above that average, and that one only barely – Texas Tech at 68%. Oklahoma and Texas continue to bring up the rear, as usual.

Football Graduation Rates: ACC
Duke93%
Boston College93%
Miami88%
Wake Forest81%
Virginia Tech79%
North Carolina75%
Virginia68%
Clemson62%
Maryland59%
Florida St.56%
North Carolina St.56%
Georgia Tech55%

The ACC's graduation rates are led by four private schools. Somewhat surprisingly, Miami reports a strong GSR of 88%, although its federal graduation rate was just 71%. Georgia Tech, despite its strong academic reputation, continues to have the worst graduation rate in the conference.

Football Graduation Rates: Big East
Rutgers89%
Cincinnati79%
Syracuse79%
Connecticut75%
West Virginia75%
Louisville66%
Pittsburgh65%
South Florida49%

Rutgers leads the Big East for the second straight year. Rutgers has turned around its graduation rate performance, going from 55% to 89% in four years. South Florida got lapped by the field.

Football Graduation Rates: Selected Others
Notre Dame97%
Navy91%
TCU78%
Boise St.74%
BYU57%

TCU will instantly become the Big 12's leader in graduation rates, with a grad rate 10 points higher than any existing Big 12 school (and 3 points higher than the other Big 12 newcomer, West Virginia).

Top 10 Football Grad Rates: FBS
(Graduation Success Rate)
Notre Dame97%
Northwestern94%
Rice93%
Duke93%
Boston College93%
Navy91%
Rutgers89%
Army88%
Miami (Fla.)88%
Stanford87%
Penn State87%

Vanderbilt and Air Force dropped out of the top 10 this year. Army is back in the top 10 after a one-year absence.

This year, we decided to look at the top 10 "federal graduation rates" as well (so named because this is the method used by the Department of Education). This takes into account the departures of transfers and others, and therefore reflects a recruit's likelihood of graduating from the school he chooses. We think there is value in the federal graduation rate. It penalizes programs that have a high "churn rate," driving away large numbers of transfers, and it rewards programs that have a high retention rate, keeping and graduating the players who arrive on campus. Using the federal graduation rates, the top 10 list looks a little different:

Top 10 Football Grad Rates: FBS
(Federal Graduation Rate)
Boston College87%
Northwestern86%
Stanford84%
Rice84%
Notre Dame83%
Penn State80%
Duke79%
Rutgers76%
TCU75%
Miami (Ohio)73%

Using the federal graduation rate, Stanford moves up to third on the list. Notre Dame drops down to fifth place due to the 14 point gap between its GSR and its federal graduation rate. In a nice bit of symmetry, Miami of Florida falls off the list and is replaced by Miami of Ohio. (Note that the service academies do not report federal graduation rates.)

Bottom 10 Football Grad Rates: FBS
Florida International43%
San Jose St.44%
Arizona48%
Oklahoma48%
Florida Atlantic48%
South Florida49%
Eastern Michigan51%
Hawaii51%
Louisiana-Monroe52%
Cal54%
Mississippi54%

No, this is not a typo: Cal is in the bottom 10 in football graduation rates. There are 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and Cal has one of the ten worst Graduation Success Rates. This is not a one-year fluke – remember, these are four-year numbers, based on the graduation rate of the four most recent classes for which data are available. The rest of the bottom 10 is made up of the usual suspects. Of course it's pathetic to see schools such as Oklahoma and Arizona in the bottom 10, but they're in the bottom 10 just about every year. Oklahoma or Arizona, what does it matter. But Cal? That's embarrassing.

Grad Rates for African American Football Players: Selected Schools
 African AmericanCaucasianDifference
Florida St.44%93%-49%
Arkansas44%80%-36%
Texas A&M45%92%-47%
USC46%83%-37%
UCLA46%78%-32%
North Carolina St.46%83%-37%
Texas47%73%-26%
Wisconsin50%86%-36%
Ohio St.51%84%-33%
Auburn52%95%-43%

We took a look at African American grad rates at some schools of interest to us. The aggregate report for all FBS football programs as a group shows that there is a 21 percentage point gap between African American players and Caucasian players (59% compared to 80%). But at some schools, the gap is much bigger. Florida State and Texas A&M have particularly large discrepancies this year.

Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between Football Players and All Students
Major Programs
 Football PlayersAll StudentsDifference
Cal54%90%-36%
UCLA59%90%-31%
USC61%87%-26%
Virginia68%93%-25%
Georgia Tech55%79%-24%
Texas57%79%-22%
Maryland59%81%-22%
BYU57%78%-21%
Texas A&M59%79%-20%
Michigan71%89%-18%
Clemson62%78%-16%
Oklahoma48%63%-15%
Florida St.56%71%-15%
North Carolina St.56%71%-15%
Wisconsin66%81%-15%
For an explanation of the calculation of these "graduation rate gaps,"
see the note at the end of the analysis.

Cal has regained the top spot on the "graduation rate gap" list after finishing second last year. UCLA and USC come next, giving the Pac-12 a dubious sweep of the top three places.

BASKETBALL

Basketball Graduation Rates: Pac-12
Oregon85%
Stanford80%
UCLA75%
Washington St.70%
Utah67%
Oregon St.58%
Arizona St.56%
Washington56%
Colorado43%
Arizona43%
USC38%
Cal33%

Stanford's basketball graduation rate stayed at 80% again this year. Last year, that 80% rate was good enough to lead the Pac-13, but this year Oregon improved enough to pass Stanford and finish in the top spot. Arizona had the worst basketball graduation rate of any major basketball program in the nation last year, but improved enough this year to finish in a tie for ninth in the conference. That left Cal at the bottom of the conference.

Basketball Graduation Rates: Big Ten
Illinois100%
Penn St.90%
Michigan St.82%
Northwestern80%
Nebraska75%
Iowa73%
Ohio St.57%
Purdue50%
Wisconsin50%
Indiana47%
Michigan45%
Minnesota43%

Illinois reported a 100% grad rate for the second straight year. Michigan climbed out of the bottom spot after two years in a row at the bottom of the Big Ten, but still finished eleventh.

Basketball Graduation Rates: SEC
Vanderbilt93%
LSU71%
Mississippi71%
Kentucky69%
Alabama67%
South Carolina57%
Georgia43%
Tennessee40%
Florida38%
Auburn29%
Mississippi St.27%
Arkansas25%

Florida's basketball grad rate dropped from 89% to 38% in three years. Arkansas continue to have one of the worst grad rates in major college basketball.

Basketball Graduation Rates: Big 12
Kansas91%
Oklahoma St.78%
Texas Tech70%
Texas A&M69%
Missouri67%
Texas67%
Baylor56%
Oklahoma55%
Kansas St.50%
Iowa St.45%

Kansas has raised its graduation rate to 91%, showing that a good basketball program can also graduate its players. Iowa State is in last place for the second straight year.

Basketball Graduation Rates: ACC
Wake Forest100%
Duke100%
Boston College89%
North Carolina89%
Virginia Tech86%
Miami82%
North Carolina St.80%
Clemson67%
Florida St.67%
Virginia50%
Maryland46%
Georgia Tech27%

Wake Forest has posted at least seven consecutive years with a 100% basketball grad rate. Maryland, which spent several years with single-digit graduation rates, now has its grad rate up to 46%, which still isn't good, but at least it's an improvement. Georgia Tech is going the other direction.

Basketball Graduation Rates: Big East
Villanova100%
Notre Dame100%
Marquette91%
St. John's83%
West Virginia83%
DePaul80%
Rutgers75%
Georgetown70%
Seton Hall69%
Providence67%
Pittsburgh64%
Cincinnati56%
Louisville56%
Syracuse54%
South Florida44%
Connecticut25%

For the sixth straight year, Connecticut has the worst basketball graduation rate in the Big East. Connecticut's failure to qualify academically for next year's NCAA tournament shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone who has been following The Bootleg's annual graduation rate reports. The Connecticut basketball program's graduation record has been terrible, year after year.

Basketball Grad Rates: Selected Others
Creighton100%
Xavier93%
St. Mary's82%
Butler82%
Ohio79%
Gonzaga73%
Virginia Commonwealth67%
San Diego St.62%
New Mexico57%
Murray St.56%

Many of the notable mid-major programs posted respectable graduation rates. Congrats to Creighton for its perfect graduation record.

Top 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
(Graduation Success Rates)
Villanova100%
Creighton100%
BYU100%
Illinois100%
Wake Forest100%
Duke100%
Notre Dame100%
Vanderbilt93%
Xavier93%
Wichita St.92%

All of the programs with 100% Graduation Success Rates this year also posted 100% GSRs last year.

As we did with football grad rates, we decided to take a look at the top 10 federal graduation rates for basketball programs. This makes a difference. All of those 100% grad rates in the last table disappear. Those programs were able to report 100% graduation rates by excluding certain players who left the program. The top federal graduation rates are:

Top 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
(Federal Graduation Rates)
Villanova90%
BYU83%
Oregon83%
Stanford80%
Notre Dame80%
Wake Forest77%
Xavier77%
Illinois75%
Vanderbilt73%
Ohio70%

Stanford has the fourth highest federal graduation rate among all major basketball programs, with a grad rate of 80%. Duke, which reported a Graduation Success Rate of 100%, has a federal graduation rate of just 60%.

Bottom 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
Connecticut25%
Arkansas25%
Georgia Tech27%
Mississippi St.27%
Auburn29%
Cal33%
Florida38%
USC38%
Tennessee40%
Arizona43%
Colorado43%
Georgia43%
Minnesota43%
Temple43%

Cal is in the bottom 10 in basketball grad rates for the fourth straight year. Arizona, Georgia, and Connecticut also repeated in the bottom 10 this year. Connecticut tied with Arkansas for the worst graduation rate of any major program.

Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between Basketball Players and All Students
Major Programs
 Basketball PlayersAll StudentsDifference
Cal33%90%-57%
Connecticut25%77%-52%
Georgia Tech27%79%-52%
USC38%87%-49%
Florida38%82%-44%
Michigan45%89%-44%
Virginia50%93%-43%
Auburn29%65%-36%
Georgia43%79%-36%
Maryland46%81%-35%
Arkansas25%58%-33%
Wisconsin50%81%-31%
For an explanation of the calculation of these "graduation rate gaps,"
see the note at the end of the analysis.

For the second straight year, Cal has the worst "graduation rate gap" between basketball players and regular students. Cal has had either the worst or the second worst "graduation rate gap" in basketball for five consecutive years.

BASEBALL

Baseball Graduation Rates: Pac-12
Stanford100%
Cal86%
Utah72%
UCLA70%
Washington70%
Oregon St.62%
USC60%
Arizona St.52%
Washington St.51%
Arizona19%
Oregonnew team

Stanford reported a 100% baseball graduation rate for the fourth straight year. Arizona is so far behind the rest of the Pac-12 that the Wildcats aren't even visible in the rear view mirror.

Baseball Graduation Rates: Selected Others
North Carolina93%
Rice91%
Florida St.88%
Clemson85%
Florida74%
Georgia Tech73%
South Carolina71%
Kentucky70%
Long Beach St.68%
Georgia64%
Miami60%
LSU60%
North Carolina St.58%
Arkansas57%
Nebraska55%
Mississippi54%
Texas50%
Fresno St.46%
Cal State Fullerton41%

Rice continues to post strong graduation rates, with 91%. A few hours down the road from Rice, Texas continues to post miserable graduation rates, with just 50%.

Top 10 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Programs
Stanford100%
Boston College100%
Wake Forest100%
Notre Dame100%
Iowa96%
Duke95%
Northwestern95%
North Carolina93%
Southern Mississippi93%
Virginia Tech93%

Stanford continues to lead the nation in baseball graduation rates, in a tie with several others.

Bottom 10 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Programs
Arizona19%
Cal State Fullerton41%
Texas Tech43%
Fresno St.46%
Texas50%
Tennessee50%
Washington St.51%
Arizona St.52%
Mississippi54%
Nebraska55%

Arizona has the worst graduation rate of any major baseball program, and it's not close. Arizona also made the bottom 10 list in football and basketball. Cal State Fullerton has had either the worst or second worst baseball graduation rate in The Bootleg's last six graduation rate reports.

ALL STUDENT-ATHLETES

Grad Rates for All Athletes: Pac-12
Stanford94%
Washington83%
UCLA83%
Oregon80%
Utah79%
Arizona St.79%
Cal79%
USC78%
Oregon St.77%
Washington St.75%
Colorado74%
Arizona67%

Stanford leads the Pac-12 conference in graduate rates for all student-athletes, and there's a big gap between Stanford's grad rate and the next highest grad rates in the conference.

Grad Rates for All Athletes: Selected Others
North Carolina88%
Penn St.88%
Florida83%
Ohio St.82%
Michigan82%
Alabama82%
Florida St.79%
Georgia79%
LSU78%
Georgia Tech77%
Auburn76%
Tennessee76%
Nebraska74%
Oklahoma71%

Graduation rates in the non-revenue sports, especially women's sports, generally are higher than those in the major men's sports. This raises the overall graduation rates for all student-athletes to generally respectable levels.

Top 10 Grad Rates for All Athletes: Major Programs
Notre Dame99%
Boston College97%
Duke97%
Northwestern96%
Navy96%
Stanford94%
Wake Forest94%
Vanderbilt92%
Virginia Tech91%
Air Force90%
Army90%

As in past years, the top 10 are mostly good private schools and service academies.

Bottom 10 Grad Rates for All Athletes: Major Programs
Arizona67%
Texas Tech70%
Oklahoma71%
Mississippi72%
Arkansas73%
Texas A&M73%
Colorado74%
Nebraska74%
North Carolina St.74%
Texas74%

Arizona has the worst graduation rate of any major sports program. That should be no surprise after seeing how low Arizona's graduation rates are in the major sports. Others in the bottom 10 include perennial bottom-feeders Texas and Oklahoma.

Source: All figures are taken from the NCAA 2011 Graduation Success Rate Report and the NCAA 2011 Federal Graduation Rate Report. All figures are "four class" graduation rates, representing the combined graduation rate of the four most recent classes for which data are available. These figures measure the percentage of scholarship athletes who graduate within six years after enrollment as freshmen. This analysis generally uses Graduation Success Rates, rather than federal graduation rates. Outgoing transfers in good academic standing are excluded from the Graduation Success Rates, while incoming transfers are included. This analysis covers the classes whose six-year graduation windows ended in 2007 through 2010.

Note on methodology regarding "graduation rate gaps": As noted above, this analysis generally uses Graduation Success Rates, rather than federal graduation rates. However, the NCAA publishes GSRs only for student-athletes, not for the overall student body. Graduation rates for the overall student body are reported only under the "federal graduation rate" method. This prevents a direct comparison between GSRs for student-athletes and GSRs for the overall student body. Because we used GSRs for student-athletes throughout our analysis, we decided for the sake of consistency to continue to use GSRs for student-athletes in calculating the "graduation rate gaps" between student-athletes and the overall student body. Thus, the "graduation rate gap" tables compare GSRs for student-athletes to federal graduation rates for the overall student body. We realize that this not an apples to apples comparison. But we believe the comparison is nonetheless informative. Because GSRs for student-athletes generally are higher than federal graduation rates, the "graduation rate gaps" we have identified generally are smaller than they would have been if we had used the federal graduation rates for both the student-athletes and the overall student body.

"Major programs" in basketball and baseball generally are teams in the six major conferences, plus any other programs that we decided to add based on our subjective judgment. Our judgment about which programs are "major" can change from year to year.



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