The Bootleg's Graduation Rate Analysis

For the third straight year, we are honored to bring you an exhuastive analysis of the NCAA's most recent graduation rate data for Division IA student-athletes. We are saddened by the lax performances by a number of our conference brethren, and many throughout the nation. Read on as we pull back the curtain on these mercenary programs and their abject academic failings for their young men and women.

Click here for The Bootleg's 2003 analysis
Click here for The Bootleg's 2002 analysis

It's time for The Bootleg's annual analysis of graduation rates.

As in previous years, we've focused on the Pac 10 schools, but we've also included some grad rates for other schools of interest to our readers.

We've reviewed all of the major conference schools' grad rates to compile lists of the top and bottom grad rates in each major sport. In addition, we've identified the schools that have the biggest "graduation rate gaps," that is, the biggest differences between their athlete graduation rates and their graduation rates for the overall student body.

Our analysis is based on the combined graduation rates for the four most recent classes. Those classes would have graduated in the years 1998 through 2001, assuming a five year track to graduation.

So, here it is: The Bootleg's third annual graduation rate analysis.

FOOTBALL

Football Graduation Rates: Pac 10
Stanford82%
Oregon64%
UCLA63%
Washington63%
USC61%
Washington St.57%
Arizona53%
Cal50%
Arizona St.44%
Oregon St.35%

Cal has the second highest graduation rate in the conference for its overall student body, but Cal's football grad rate continues to hold down the eighth position, just ahead of Arizona State and Oregon State. Oregon State seems to be taking up permanent residence in the cellar with its second straight 35% performance.

Football Graduation Rates: Selected Others
Georgia62%
Kansas St.57%
Nebraska57%
Alabama53%
Wisconsin52%
Maryland50%
Miami49%
Florida St.49%
Michigan46%
Florida44%
Colorado43%
Ohio State41%
Tennessee41%
LSU40%
Georgia Tech39%
Texas38%
Oklahoma33%

Few of the football powerhouses graduate much more than half their players. Some of them graduate considerably fewer than half. Texas, because of a dismal performance by the most recent class, saw its four-class grad rate drop from 50% to 38% in a single year.

Football Grad Rates for African American Players: Pac 10
 African AmericanCaucasian
Stanford82%81%
Washington77%52%
UCLA61%68%
USC61%60%
Arizona48%57%
Washington St.47%71%
Oregon44%74%
Cal43%62%
Oregon St.36%38%
Arizona St.29%65%

While only two Pac 10 schools have a football graduation rate under 50%, six schools in the conference graduate fewer than half of their African American football players. In addition, four of the schools in the conference have a big discrepancy in their graduation rates for African American players and white players – Oregon, Washington State, Arizona State, and Cal.

Football Grad Rates for African American Players: Selected Others
 African AmericanCaucasian
Georgia51%86%
Florida St.43%65%
Illinois41%70%
Clemson38%77%
Michigan36%58%
LSU34%56%
Ohio St.28%58%
Tennessee26%78%
Colorado25%63%
Arkansas16%45%

There is no benign explanation for what's happening in Tennessee . . . or some other places as well.

Top 5 Football Grad Rates: Division IA
Vanderbilt84%
Duke83%
Northwestern83%
Syracuse83%
Stanford82%
Rice82%

It's no coincidence that once again, as in previous years, the top academic schools in Division IA are the ones leading the football graduation rate list. This year, Syracuse has joined that group of traditionally strong academic schools. Kudos to the Orangemen.

Bottom 5 Football Grad Rates: Division IA
BYU12%
UNLV23%
Arkansas26%
Fresno St.26%
San Jose St.27%
Middle Tennessee St.27%

BYU's football grad rate is affected by the number of players who take missions, because a player who starts college, redshirts, and takes a two year mission usually will not graduate within the six year window used for purposes of these stats. The California State University system holds down two of the bottom five spots on the list, with Fresno State and San Jose State.

Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between Football Players and All Students (Difference of 20% or more): Division IA
 Football PlayersAll StudentsDifference
BYU12%72%-60%
Michigan46%83%-37%
Cal50%83%-33%
Texas38%69%-31%
Georgia Tech39%68%-29%
Pitt35%62%-27%
Florida44%71%-27%
Rutgers46%73%-27%
North Carolina53%80%-27%
Miami (Ohio)53%80%-27%
Michigan St.41%67%-26%
Missouri38%63%-25%
Illinois52%77%-25%
Kentucky32%56%-24%
Auburn44%67%-23%
Texas A&M49%72%-23%
Virginia Tech49%72%-23%
Wisconsin52%75%-23%
Oregon St.35%57%-22%
Colorado43%65%-22%
Colorado St.41%62%-21%
Arkansas26%46%-20%

Several schools with good academic reputations, including Michigan, Cal, Texas and Georgia Tech, have far lower graduation rates for football players than for their student bodies as a whole. In the three years The Bootleg has been doing this survey, the same schools keep coming up on this list.

BASKETBALL

Basketball Grad Rates: Pac 10
Stanford100%
Washington St.56%
UCLA40%
Washington36%
USC27%
Oregon27%
Arizona23%
Oregon St.**
Arizona St.**
Cal**

This year, because of federal privacy rules, the NCAA's graduation rates report has "suppressed" the graduation rates in categories where two or fewer students graduated. These "suppressed" graduation rates show up as asterisks (**). We can make some estimates about the suppressed grad rates. Based on normal recruiting patterns, we can assume that most schools would have recruited 8 to 15 freshman basketball players over four years. Any school with a suppressed graduation rate must have had two or fewer graduates over that four year period. With two or fewer graduates among 8 to 15 recruits, the suppressed graduation rates must be somewhere between 0% and 25%. In the Pac 10, the basketball grad rates for Arizona State, Oregon State, and Cal were suppressed, suggesting that those schools would have reported graduation rates of 25% or less. This assumption seems reasonable in view of the fact that a year ago, before the NCAA started suppressing data, all three of those schools did in fact report basketball grad rates of 25% or less.

Basketball Grad Rates: Selected Others
Villanova75%
Santa Clara73%
Kansas73%
Xavier67%
Duke67%
Michigan St.56%
North Carolina55%
Gonzaga50%
St. Joseph's44%
Syracuse40%
Georgia Tech27%
Connecticut27%
Maryland27%

This year's championship game between Connecticut and Georgia Tech matched two teams with identical 27% grad rates.

At this point in our analysis, we wanted to include charts showing graduation rates for African American basketball players, but we decided those charts wouldn't be very useful. Because of the relatively small number of basketball players on a team, the generally low grad rates in basketball, and the low grad rates for African American players in particular, most of the grad rates for African American players were suppressed. In the Pac 10, the grad rates for African American players were suppressed at eight of the ten schools . . . which in itself may tell us everything we need to know.

Top 5 Basketball Grad Rates: Major Conference Schools
Stanford100%
SMU83%
Dayton82%
La Salle80%

We stretched the definition of "major conference" to include the Atlantic 10 and the WAC, and even then, we couldn't find five major conference schools with basketball grad rates of 80% or better. So we cut it off at four schools. Some schools outside the major conferences had grad rates of 80%, including four schools in the Patriot League alone, but we couldn't bring ourselves to call the Patriot League a major conference. We had to draw the line somewhere.

Bottom Basketball Grad Rates: Major Conference Schools (Schools with "Suppressed" Grad Rates)
Alabama**
Arkansas**
Arizona St.**
Cal**
Cincinnati**
Colorado**
DePaul**
Fresno St.**
Hawaii**
Houston**
Kentucky**
LSU**
Louisville**
Memphis**
Michigan**
Minnesota**
Missouri**
Nebraska**
Nevada**
New Mexico**
Oklahoma**
Oklahoma St.**
Oregon St.**
Pitt**
San Jose St.**
Temple**
TCU**
UNLV**

Basketball grad rates in general are low, but these schools are the lowest. As we've indicated previously, we can assume that "suppressed" graduation rates probably are somewhere in the range of 0% to 25%. Based on grad rate reports in previous years before the NCAA started suppressing low grad rates, it's likely that some of these schools have basketball grad rates below 10%, including some with grad rates of 0%. Some of this year's top-ranked basketball teams show up on the "suppressed" list, such as Kentucky, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, and Pitt. Two of the nation's top public universities also show up on this list -- Michigan and Cal.

Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between Basketball Players and All Students (Difference of 40% or more): Major Conference Schools
Includes estimates. See note below.
 Basketball PlayersAll StudentsDifference
Cal**83%-71%*
Michigan**83%-71%*
Colorado**65%-53%*
TCU**64%-52%*
Missouri**63%-51%*
Pitt**62%-50%*
Texas A&M23%72%-49%
Rutgers25%73%-48%
Alabama**59%-47%*
DePaul**59%-47%*
Miami (Ohio)33%80%-47%
USC27%73%-46%
Virginia46%92%-46%
Georgetown46%92%-46%
Oregon St.**57%-45%*
Kentucky**56%-44%*
LSU**54%-42%*
Connecticut27%69%-42%
Clemson29%71%-42%
Providence42%84%-42%
Northwestern50%92%-42%
Hawaii**53%-41%*
Georgia Tech27%68%-41%
UCLA40%81%-41%
Wake Forest46%87%-41%
Boston College46%86%-40%
Schools with "suppressed" graduation rates (**) are estimated to have graduation rates of 12%. For these schools, the figures in the "difference" column are estimates, denoted by asterisks (*).

This list shows the schools with the largest estimated graduation rate "gaps" between basketball players and regular students. Because the actual grad rates were suppressed for a number of these schools, we had to estimate the grad rates. As we've noted above, the "suppressed" grad rates are probably between 0% and 25%. We've used an estimate of 12% (roughly the mid-point of the possible range) for the grad rate at each of the schools with suppressed grad rates. Our estimates should be accurate within about 12 percentage points either way. So, all of the schools on this list are within the general ballpark shown above. The figures on the list aren't exact, but this list gives a general picture of which schools have the biggest graduation rate "gaps" between basketball players and regular students.

BASEBALL

Baseball Grad Rates: Pac 10
Stanford81%
USC46%
UCLA41%
Washington St.41%
Cal41%
Arizona St.36%
Washington31%
Arizona27%
Oregon St.27%
Oregonno team

In the Pac 10, no school except Stanford graduates more than half of its baseball players.

Baseball Grad Rates: Selected Others
Santa Clara76%
San Jose St.36%
Texas32%
Clemson28%
LSU26%
Nebraska25%
Georgia Tech22%
Cal State Fullerton20%
Georgia19%
Florida St.19%
Miami17%

The major baseball schools generally have poor graduation rates. You would expect the best baseball schools to lose more than their share of juniors to the draft, of course. But Stanford loses juniors to the draft every year and still manages an 81% graduation rate. Stanford coach Mark Marquess reportedly pushes his players to take enough units to graduate in three years, so that they can graduate even if they are drafted and sign as juniors.

Top 5 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Conference Schools
Duke100%
Richmond91%
Boston College85%
Stanford81%
Northwestern81%

Stanford's baseball success, including five consecutive trips to the College World Series, has been achieved without sacrificing graduation rates. Unfortunately, those Stanford players don't actually get to attend their graduation ceremonies – Stanford's graduation is held during the College World Series every year.

Bottom 5 Baseball Grad Rates: Major Conference Schools
Long Beach St.**
Fresno St.**
Tennessee**
Houston16%
Miami17%

The California State University system is well represented on this list, with two of the worst baseball graduation rates in the nation. Perennial baseball power Miami managed to crack the bottom five in grad rates.

Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between Baseball Players and All Students (Difference of 30% or more): Major Conference Schools
Includes estimates. See note below.
 Baseball PlayersAll StudentsDifference
Georgia19%67%-48%
Tennessee**58%-46%*
Miami17%63%-46%
Georgia Tech22%68%-46%
Florida St.19%62%-43%
Clemson28%71%-43%
Cal41%83%-42%
BYU30%72%-42%
UCLA41%81%-40%
Vanderbilt43%83%-40%
Washington31%70%-39%
Texas32%69%-37%
North Carolina St.27%63%-36%
Virginia Tech36%72%-36%
Oklahoma St.17%51%-34%
Kansas St.20%53%-33%
Texas A&M39%72%-33%
South Carolina27%58%-31%
Auburn36%67%-31%
Indiana37%68%-31%
Fresno St.**42%-30%*
Alabama29%59%-30%
Oregon St.27%57%-30%
Virginia62%92%-30%
Schools with "suppressed" graduation rates (**) are estimated to have graduation rates of 12%. For these schools, the figures in the "difference" column are estimates, denoted by asterisks (*).

Some of the major baseball powers – Miami, Florida State, Clemson, South Carolina, and Texas, among others – appear willing to tolerate a much greater attrition rate among baseball players than in the overall student body. Perhaps they view this as the price of success.

ALL STUDENT-ATHLETES

Grad Rates for All Athletes: Pac 10
Stanford87%
Washington66%
Cal66%
Oregon65%
UCLA65%
Washington St.63%
USC61%
Arizona53%
Arizona St.53%
Oregon St.47%

Stanford leads the Pac 10 in athlete grad rates by a considerable margin, with the next six schools in the conference grouped together in a narrow range.

Grad Rates for All Athletes: Selected Others
Santa Clara78%
Michigan73%
Georgia64%
Ohio St.59%
Nebraska59%
Texas57%
Florida St.57%
Georgia Tech53%
Miami53%
Florida52%
LSU52%
San Jose St.49%

Most of the schools with big, successful athletic programs have overall athlete grad rates in the 50% to 65% range. Michigan is somewhat higher, with its women's sports and non-revenue sports making up for its very weak grad rates in football and basketball.

Grad Rates for African American Athletes (All Sports): Pac 10
 African AmericanCaucasian
Stanford85%86%
Washington67%67%
UCLA58%68%
USC55%63%
Arizona50%54%
Washington St.48%69%
Cal42%72%
Oregon41%73%
Oregon St.33%53%
Arizona St.31%58%

In the Pac 10, five schools have significant differences in the graduation rates for African American athletes and white athletes, with Oregon and Cal having the biggest racial differences.

Grad Rates for African American Athletes (All Sports): Selected Others
 African AmericanCaucasian
Michigan49%80%
Alabama48%65%
Texas45%61%
Georgia Tech44%60%
Nebraska39%62%
Ohio St.38%64%
Oklahoma37%57%
Tennessee36%64%
Colorado26%70%
Kentucky24%52%
Arkansas23%48%

Colorado doesn't need yet another problem right now . . . but the racial disparity in graduation rates at Colorado really has to make you wonder what's going on there.

Top 5 Grad Rates for All Athletes: Major Conference Schools
Northwestern89%
Duke89%
Stanford87%
Notre Dame87%
Rice82%

At most schools, the combined graduation rate for all athletes is within a few percentage points of the school's overall grad rate for all students. The schools on this list have high overall grad rates, and similarly high grad rates for athletes.

Bottom 5 Grad Rates for All Athletes: Major Conference Schools
UNLV35%
Oklahoma St.38%
Houston39%
Arkansas40%
Fresno St.41%

Most schools manage to graduate over half of their athletes, but these schools consistently lag behind, well under the 50% mark.

Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between All Athletes and All Students (Difference of 10% or more): Major Conference Schools
 All AthletesAll StudentsDifference
BYU50%72%-22%
Florida52%71%-19%
Cal66%83%-17%
UCLA65%81%-16%
Georgia Tech53%68%-15%
Clemson56%71%-15%
Oklahoma St.38%51%-13%
Texas57%69%-12%
USC61%73%-12%
Kentucky45%56%-11%
Texas A&M61%72%-11%
Wake Forest76%87%-11%
Virginia81%92%-11%
Oregon St.47%57%-10%
Miami53%63%-10%
Auburn57%67%-10%
North Carolina70%80%-10%
Michigan73%83%-10%

In each of the last two years, the school with the biggest gap between athlete graduation rates and overall graduation rates was Cal. This year, two schools have knocked Cal off the top of the list. BYU, with a 22 percentage point gap, has an excuse because of the number of athletes who go on missions. We don't think Florida sends too many athletes on missions.

Source: All figures are taken from the NCAA 2003 Graduation Rates Report. The report measures the percentage of scholarship athletes who graduated from each school within six years after enrolling as freshmen at that school.


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