The Bootleg's 2013 Graduation Rate Analysis

"fictio cedit veritati"

It wouldn't be spring without The Bootleg's annual graduation rate analysis! Once again, the Cal Bears continue to embarrass their otherwise well-regarded school and their ever-enabling Old Blue alumni with a disturbing inability to graduate their so-called student-athletes. As usual, we flip the lights on, exposing the latest data from the NCAA. Let the college administrator spin-doctoring begin!

We are proud to present The Bootleg's 12th annual graduation rate analysis.

We at The Bootleg have compiled and analyzed the major programs' graduation rates for football, basketball, and baseball, and the overall graduation rates for all student-athletes. Our analysis includes lists of the top 10 and bottom 10 graduation rates in each sport. We also provide a full list of the football and basketball graduation rates for all major conference schools.

As in the past, our analysis includes our exclusive list of the schools with the biggest "graduation rate gaps" in football and basketball – that is, the biggest gaps between the student-athlete graduation rate and the overall student body graduation rate.

Our analysis uses the "Graduation Success Rates" (GSRs) from the NCAA's 2012 graduation rate report. The Graduation Success Rate is the percentage of athletes who graduated within six years after starting college. Outgoing transfers don't count in the calculation, so long as they were in good academic standing when they left. This differs from the Department of Education's "federal graduation rate," which counts outgoing transfers as non-graduates. GSRs generally are higher than federal graduation rates. For example, for the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision as a whole, the aggregate football GSR is 11 points higher than the aggregate federal graduation rate (68% compared to 57%). Schools that lose a lot of outgoing transfers can have a much larger difference between the two types of grad rates. Graduation Success Rates are widely used by the NCAA, the schools, and the media, so we are using them here. But we still provide federal graduation rates as a point of reference from time to time.

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 2008 through 2011.

FOOTBALL

Football Graduation Rates: Pac-12
Stanford90%
Washington74%
Utah66%
Oregon64%
Arizona St.63%
Colorado63%
UCLA62%
Oregon St.60%
USC57%
Washington St.53%
Arizona53%
Cal48%

Stanford leads the Pac-12 in football graduation rates again this year. Stanford's grad rate ticked up from 87% last year to 90% this year. In the last two years, Stanford has expanded its lead over Washington from 4 percentage points to 16 percentage points. The aggregate football grad rate for Division I FBS is 68%, so 10 of the 12 schools in the Pac-12 are below the national average.

The big news in the Pac-12 is that Cal's graduation rate continues to sink and now ranks dead last in the conference. Having a graduation rate lower than that of perennial cellar-dweller Arizona really takes some doing, but Cal did it. Cal's grad rate now is down to 48%. These are four-year averages, so this isn't just a matter of one fluky class distorting the graduation rate. For several years, Cal was touting Jeff Tedford's success in improving grad rates, relying on carefully massaged numbers even as the NCAA's official reports were telling a different story. But Tedford's supposed success turned out to be an illusion. We suspect that Cal will blame its low graduation rates on the recently departed Tedford, just as it blamed low grad rates under Tedford on his predecessor, Tom Holmoe. But we believe this is an institutional issue, not a coaching issue. Cal has had chronically low graduation rates under coach after coach. If Cal really wants to improve graduation rates, it needs to take institutional responsibility rather than continuing to blame the last coach. Looking at federal graduation rates, Cal also has the lowest federal grad rate in the conference at 47%, a tick lower than Arizona State and USC at 48%.

Football Graduation Rates: Big Ten
Northwestern97%
Penn St.91%
Iowa82%
Illinois75%
Ohio St.74%
Indiana70%
Michigan69%
Minnesota69%
Nebraska68%
Wisconsin65%
Michigan St.64%
Purdue59%

Northwestern again has the best grad rate in the Big Ten. Penn State had a very strong showing this year, moving up to 91%. This proves that a big state university with a major football program can indeed be successful in graduating its football players. Purdue continued its surprisingly bad performance, taking undisputed possession of last place this year after finishing in a tie last year. However, Michigan State has the lowest federal graduation rate at 46%, compared to 51% for Purdue, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Football Graduation Rates: SEC
Vanderbilt85%
LSU77%
Florida75%
Alabama75%
Missouri73%
Georgia69%
Texas A&M69%
Kentucky65%
Auburn64%
Mississippi St.60%
Mississippi59%
Tennessee58%
South Carolina55%
Arkansas54%

Vanderbilt continues to lead the SEC in football grad rates. LSU and Florida have GSRs of 77% and 75%, which seems reasonably good on the surface. But these two schools have big differences between their GSRs and their federal graduation rates. Both LSU and Florida have a federal graduation rate of 49%, which is not good at all. The low federal grad rates indicate that these two programs lose a lot of scholarship players, whether through transfer or otherwise. Their graduation rates for the players who stay are decent, but that doesn't tell the whole story because it doesn't reflect numerous departures. For example, LSU's Graduation Success Rate of 77% appears to be based on 41 graduates out of 53 incoming scholarship players over a four year period. LSU's 49% federal graduation rate for that same period appears to be based on 41 graduates out of 83 scholarship players. The GSR methodology allowed LSU to exclude from the calculation 30 players who departed from the program. Those 30 departing players are included in the federal graduation rate. So, despite its apparently respectable GSR of 77%, fewer than half of the incoming scholarship players at LSU actually graduated from LSU.

Football Graduation Rates: Big 12
TCU79%
West Virginia79%
Kansas72%
Texas Tech66%
Baylor63%
Iowa St.62%
Oklahoma St.62%
Kansas St.58%
Texas58%
Oklahoma47%

The newest Big 12 teams immediately went to the head of the class. TCU and West Virginia shared the conference's highest graduation rate at 79%. But they earned those grad rates before they joined the conference. Let's wait and see what happens when they've been in the Big 12 for a while. Oklahoma and Texas continue to bring up the rear. If that sounds familiar, that's because we say it every year.

Football Graduation Rates: ACC
Boston College94%
Miami94%
Duke92%
Wake Forest86%
Virginia Tech75%
Clemson75%
North Carolina75%
Virginia69%
Maryland65%
North Carolina St.62%
Florida St.55%
Georgia Tech55%

The ACC always has strong graduation rates, with the four private schools leading the conference. In a mild upset, Duke was knocked out of the top spot on the ACC's grad rate list. Duke's grad rate of 92% is excellent, but the competition in the ACC is strong. Both Boston College and Miami posted GSRs of 94%. We're accustomed to seeing BC near the top of the list, but seeing Miami with such a strong grad rate is somewhat surprising. However, Miami is one of the schools with a big gap between its GSR (94%) and its federal graduation rate (72%). So Miami's strong GSR doesn't fully describe the graduation prospects of athletes who arrive in Coral Gables.

Football Graduation Rates: Big East
Rutgers91%
Syracuse79%
Cincinnati70%
Pittsburgh70%
Connecticut68%
Temple66%
Louisville63%
South Florida53%

Does the Big East still exist? We probably should drop it from this analysis due to terminal irrelevance. In any event, Rutgers leads the Big East for the third straight year. Rutgers has gone from 55% to 91% in five years. We don't know whether Rutgers is providing better academic support or hired more aggressive accountants to figure its grad rates.

Football Graduation Rates: Selected Others
Notre Dame97%
Army88%
Navy87%
Boise St.81%
Slippery Rock70%
BYU63%

Army has had a hard time against Navy on the football field lately, but this year the Black Knights finally edged ahead of the Midshipmen in grad rates.

Top 10 Football Grad Rates: FBS
(Graduation Success Rate)
Northwestern97%
Notre Dame97%
Boston College94%
Miami (Fla.)94%
Rice93%
Duke92%
Penn State91%
Rutgers91%
Stanford90%
Army88%

Navy dropped out of the top 10 this year, which is a little bit of a surprise. Navy had appeared in the top 10 every year we've published a top 10, and was # 1 four years in a row (2006 through 2009).

Top 10 Football Grad Rates: FBS
(Federal Graduation Rate)
Boston College90%
Northwestern90%
Stanford87%
Rice85%
Penn State84%
Notre Dame83%
Duke80%
Wake Forest78%
TCU74%
Rutgers73%

Again this year, we are publishing the top 10 federal graduation rates. The federal graduation rate includes outgoing transfers in the calculation, and therefore reflects a recruit's likelihood of graduating from the school he initially chooses. It penalizes programs with a high churn rate and rewards programs with a high retention rate. Stanford ranks third in federal graduation rates. Some of the schools with high Graduation Success Rates drop down the list when we look at the federal graduation rates. Notre Dame's grad rate drops 14 points, Rutgers drops 18 points, and Miami drops 22 points, falling out of the top 10. (Note that the service academies do not report federal graduation rates.)

Bottom 10 Football Grad Rates: FBS
Florida International40%
Oklahoma47%
Central Michigan47%
Cal48%
San Jose St.48%
Eastern Michigan52%
Florida Atlantic52%
Arizona53%
South Florida53%
Washington St.53%

For the second straight year, Cal is in the bottom 10 in football graduation rates. Cal now has the fourth worst grad rate among the 120 FBS schools. Among major conference schools, only Oklahoma has a grad rate lower than Cal's.

Grad Rates for African American Football Players: Selected Schools
 African AmericanCaucasianDifference
Florida St.45%100%-55%
Auburn54%95%-41%
Tennessee53%93%-40%
Texas A&M57%96%-39%
North Carolina St.51%89%-38%
Texas46%83%-37%
Wisconsin51%87%-36%
Arkansas44%79%-35%
South Carolina45%80%-35%
UCLA51%84%-33%
Mississippi51%83%-32%
Oklahoma St.56%84%-28%
Oregon49%76%-27%

There continues to be a gap between graduation rates for white football players and African American players in Division I as a whole. We've listed here some of the schools with particularly notable racial gaps in their football grad rates.

Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between Football Players and All Students
Major Programs
 Football PlayersAll StudentsDifference
Cal48%90%-42%
USC57%89%-32%
UCLA62%90%-28%
Georgia Tech55%79%-24%
Virginia69%93%-24%
Texas58%80%-22%
Michigan69%89%-20%
Oklahoma47%65%-18%
Florida St.55%72%-17%
Wisconsin65%82%-17%
Maryland65%82%-17%
Washington St.53%68%-15%
BYU63%78%-15%
For an explanation of the calculation of these "graduation rate gaps,"
see the note at the end of the analysis.

Cal has by far the largest graduation rate gap between football players and the general student body. This is the second straight year that Cal has reported the largest gap.

BASKETBALL

Basketball Graduation Rates: Pac-12
Stanford91%
Oregon85%
Washington St.78%
Washington78%
Utah73%
UCLA70%
Arizona St.67%
Colorado60%
Arizona54%
Oregon St.50%
Cal50%
USC43%

Stanford's basketball graduation rate moved up to 91% this year, which leads the Pac-12. Cal was in last place in the conference a year ago, but has edged past USC, leaving the Trojans at the bottom of this list.

Basketball Graduation Rates: Big Ten
Illinois100%
Penn St.92%
Iowa89%
Michigan St.89%
Northwestern80%
Michigan64%
Nebraska60%
Purdue58%
Minnesota54%
Ohio St.45%
Indiana43%
Wisconsin40%

Illinois reported a 100% grad rate for the third straight year. Kudos to the Illini. Going the other direction is Wisconsin, which dropped from 50% to 40% and now has the lowest graduation rate in the conference.

Basketball Graduation Rates: SEC
Vanderbilt92%
Kentucky78%
Alabama71%
Texas A&M71%
Missouri67%
Auburn67%
LSU60%
South Carolina58%
Mississippi56%
Tennessee55%
Georgia50%
Mississippi St.29%
Arkansas25%
Florida17%

Florida's basketball grad rate dropped from 89% to 17% in four years, which is one of the steepest declines we've seen since we started doing this analysis. Florida has displaced long-time laggard Arkansas as the program with the worst basketball graduation rate in the SEC.

Basketball Graduation Rates: Big 12
Kansas100%
West Virginia100%
TCU80%
Texas Tech78%
Texas71%
Oklahoma71%
Baylor67%
Kansas St.58%
Oklahoma St.50%
Iowa St.50%

Big 12 newcomer West Virginia has joined Kansas at the top of the conference with a 100% graduation rate. The other new team, TCU, also did well this year, ranking third in the conference.

Basketball Graduation Rates: ACC
Wake Forest100%
Duke100%
North Carolina91%
Virginia Tech90%
Boston College88%
Miami87%
Clemson75%
North Carolina St.73%
Virginia64%
Florida St.57%
Maryland50%
Georgia Tech18%

Wake Forest has a 100% basketball graduation rate for the eighth consecutive year. Georgia Tech's graduation rate continues to drop, down from 27% last year to 18% this year.

Basketball Graduation Rates: Big East
Villanova100%
Notre Dame100%
South Florida88%
Marquette87%
St. John's86%
DePaul80%
Georgetown80%
Rutgers80%
Seton Hall80%
Providence80%
Louisville75%
Syracuse58%
Cincinnati56%
Pittsburgh54%
Connecticut10%

Connecticut has the worst basketball graduation rate in the Big East for the seventh straight year. This year, Connecticut got lapped by the field. It's no surprise that the Huskies were banned from the NCAA tournament for academic deficiencies.

Basketball Grad Rates: Selected Others
Xavier100%
St. Mary's92%
Creighton91%
Gonzaga90%
Butler80%
Louisiana Tech75%
Virginia Commonwealth73%
Saint Louis 64%
San Diego St.62%
Memphis50%

The most successful mid-majors generally have pretty good graduation rates, aside from Memphis.

Top 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
(Graduation Success Rate)
Villanova100%
Illinois100%
Wake Forest100%
Duke100%
Notre Dame100%
Xavier100%
Kansas100%
West Virginia100%
Penn St.92%
Vanderbilt92%
St. Mary's92%

Kansas, West Virginia, and Xavier moved up to 100% GSRs this year. The other programs with 100% GSRs this year had 100% last year as well.

Top 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
(Federal Graduation Rate)
Stanford90%
Oregon90%
Villanova83%
Notre Dame83%
Xavier77%
Baylor75%
Gonzaga75%
St. Mary's75%
Washington75%
St. Joseph's75%

As we did with football grad rates, we compiled a list of the top 10 federal graduation rates for major basketball programs. The federal graduation rates for many of the major programs are considerably lower than their GSRs. No major program had a 100% federal graduation rate. Stanford is tied for the highest federal graduation rate among all major basketball programs, with a grad rate of 90%. Duke, which reported a Graduation Success Rate of 100%, has a federal graduation rate of just 54%.

Bottom 10 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Programs
Connecticut10%
Florida17%
Georgia Tech18%
Arkansas25%
Mississippi St.29%
Wisconsin40%
Indiana43%
USC43%
Temple43%
Ohio St.45%

Connecticut dropped from 25% to 10%. Florida takes the second spot on the bottom 10 list, dropping from 38% to 17%. GSRs exclude outgoing transfers who were in good academic standing, so these numbers can't be blamed on transfers.

Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between Basketball Players and All Students
Major Programs
 Basketball PlayersAll StudentsDifference
Connecticut10%79%-69%
Florida17%83%-66%
Georgia Tech18%79%-61%
USC43%89%-46%
Wisconsin40%82%-42%
Cal50%90%-40%
Arkansas25%58%-33%
Maryland50%82%-32%
Mississippi St.29%60%-31%
Ohio St.45%76%-31%
Georgia50%81%-31%
For an explanation of the calculation of these "graduation rate gaps,"
see the note at the end of the analysis.

Connecticut now has the largest graduation rate gap between basketball players and the general student body. Cal, which had either the worst or the second worst graduation rate gap in each of the last five years, is sixth on the list this year. So this actually represents some improvement for Cal, as odd as that might seem.

BASEBALL

Baseball Graduation Rates: Pac-12
Stanford100%
Cal86%
Utah73%
UCLA71%
USC71%
Washington67%
Oregon St.64%
Arizona St.63%
Washington St.61%
Oregon50%
Arizona20%
Coloradono team

Stanford has a 100% baseball graduation rate for the fifth straight year. Arizona once again lags far behind the rest of the conference.

Baseball Graduation Rates: Selected Others
North Carolina94%
Vanderbilt91%
Rice90%
Florida St.87%
Clemson85%
Miami80%
Virginia79%
Georgia Tech76%
Florida72%
Kentucky72%
LSU70%
North Carolina St.70%
Oklahoma70%
South Carolina68%
Mississippi66%
UC Irvine64%
Georgia62%
Arkansas61%
Texas59%
Fresno St.52%
Cal State Fullerton44%

In baseball, there often is a big difference between the Graduation Success Rate and the federal graduation rate. For example, North Carolina has a 94% GSR but a 44% federal graduation rate. The gaps are even wider at schools such as Florida State (87% GSR, 23% federal), Miami (80% GSR, 17% federal), and Oklahoma (70% GSR, 17% federal). Many other schools also have big gaps between the two types of grad rates. The low federal graduation rates indicate that large numbers of players are leaving school in good standing, but without degrees. So the GSR does not give the full picture.

Top 10 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Programs
(Graduation Success Rate)
Stanford100%
Wake Forest100%
Duke100%
Notre Dame100%
Michigan St.97%
Tulane95%
North Carolina94%
Northwestern94%
Southern Mississippi94%
Virginia Tech93%
Boston College93%

Stanford continues to lead all major programs in baseball Graduation Success Rates, in a tie with several others.

Top 10 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Programs
(Federal Graduation Rate)
Northwestern81%
Duke75%
Virginia Tech75%
Stanford74%
Notre Dame73%
Purdue73%
Michigan St.71%
Southern Mississippi71%
Wake Forest68%
Illinois68%

Stanford's federal graduation rate for baseball ranks fourth among major baseball programs.

Bottom 10 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Programs
Arizona20%
Cal State Fullerton44%
Oregon50%
Tennessee50%
Fresno St.52%
Texas Tech53%
Nebraska57%
Auburn58%
Kansas58%
Texas59%

Arizona has far and away the worst graduation rate of any major baseball program. Cal State Fullerton has had either the worst or second worst baseball graduation rate in The Bootleg's last seven graduation rate reports.

ALL STUDENT-ATHLETES

Grad Rates for All Athletes: Pac-12
Stanford96%
UCLA84%
Washington81%
Utah81%
Oregon80%
Arizona St.80%
Cal80%
USC79%
Oregon St.75%
Washington St.75%
Colorado75%
Arizona68%

For Division I as a whole, the aggregate student-athlete Graduation Success Rate is 80%. All the true student-athletes in minor sports – especially women – help make up for the low graduation rates in the major sports. Stanford leads the Pac-12 in graduate rates for all student-athletes by a wide margin.

Grad Rates for All Athletes: Selected Others
North Carolina88%
Penn St.88%
Ohio St.85%
Alabama85%
Michigan84%
Florida82%
Georgia81%
LSU80%
Florida St.78%
Nebraska77%
Georgia Tech76%
Texas76%
Auburn74%
Tennessee73%
Oklahoma72%

Graduation rates for all student-athletes tend to cluster around the overall average of 80%.

Top 10 Grad Rates for All Athletes: Major Programs
(Graduation Success Rate)
Notre Dame99%
Duke98%
Northwestern97%
Boston College97%
Stanford96%
Wake Forest95%
Navy93%
Miami (Fla.)93%
Vanderbilt91%
Army90%

Stanford ranks fifth in the overall student-athlete Graduation Success Rate this year, just three percentage points behind the leader.

Top 10 Grad Rates for All Athletes: Major Programs
(Federal Graduation Rate)
Stanford92%
Notre Dame91%
Northwestern88%
Duke86%
Boston College82%
Wake Forest80%
Penn St.78%
Michigan76%
Virginia76%
Illinois74%
North Carolina74%
Syracuse74%

When we look at federal graduation rates for all student-athletes, Stanford moves to the top of the list.

Bottom 10 Grad Rates for All Athletes: Major Programs
Arizona68%
Oklahoma72%
Arkansas72%
Tennessee73%
Texas Tech73%
Auburn74%
Texas A&M74%
Colorado75%
Oregon St.75%
Washington St.75%

Arizona once again has the worst overall student-athlete graduation rate of any major sports program. Oklahoma is a long-time fixture on the bottom 10 list, along with Arkansas and Texas A&M.

Source: All figures are taken from the NCAA 2012 Graduation Success Rate Report and the NCAA 2012 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 2008 through 2011.

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 these 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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