UW graduation rate deemed a success under NCAA's new formula
The NCAA continued its push toward academic reform Monday, announcing a four-year compilation of graduation rates under a formula it maintains...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The NCAA continued its push toward academic reform Monday, announcing a four-year compilation of graduation rates under a formula it maintains is more reflective of the mobility of college athletes.
Myles Brand, the NCAA president, called the numbers "spectacular" and said they "speak highly to the work being done in our athletic departments around the country."
The University of Washington scored well, even in the high-profile sports of football and men's basketball — which often yield lower results — with a 75 percent success rate in football and 90 percent in men's basketball.
In some cases, numbers were outdated. They take in those students who entered a university from 1995 to 1998, and track whether they graduated within a six-year window, whether they were in good academic standing if and when they transferred, or whether they graduated after arriving as a transfer.
"This is a first-year dry run," said Brand.
These numbers, the first in the NCAA's recalculated Graduation Success Rate, will eventually be paired with its Academic Progress Rate — a so-called "real-time" indicator — to determine whether a school's specific sports are keeping up.
The NCAA's old measurement tracked six-year windows of entering freshmen, mirroring the U.S. Department of Education's figures. But those penalize schools for students transferring out, even if they graduate at their new school, and don't reward programs for accepting transfers who graduate.
Brand says the NCAA graduation rate for 1995-98 under the old formula is 62 percent. It improves to 76 percent under the GSR measurement.
"That is a dramatic difference, and it's due to a much more accurate accounting," said Brand on a national teleconference. "Our students today are far more mobile. We must respect the migration of students in order to get accurate data."
Under the NCAA reforms still being fine-tuned, programs can be hit with postseason bans or loss of scholarships. Preliminary data released last spring showed several programs at Washington and Washington State — including men's basketball and baseball at both — to be under the national average for Division I in the real-time APR reckoning and potentially at risk for penalty in the future.
Additional supporting data is due out early in 2006.
"We're really not anticipating any penalties," UW athletic director Todd Turner said Monday. "But it's a small margin for error. We have to stay vigilant about it."
That APR data was on the basis of a 925 required score, determined by athletes staying in school and remaining on track to graduate. The number 925 was arrived at on the basis of a 50 percent graduation rate, but with the newly released numbers, that standard could change.
"It's one of the things we've talked about after we've got all this data," said Walter Harrison, University of Hartford president and chairman of the committee on academic performance. "At the moment, we're only at the beginning phases of understanding what all these numbers mean."
In the GSR data, the overall Division I average for football programs was 65, and 58 for men's basketball. The Huskies' 75 percent was second to Stanford's 92 in football in the Pac-10, and the 90 percent in men's basketball was second to Stanford's 92.
"I took a real quick, comparative look at the Pac-10, and we looked quite good," Turner said.
Washington State's 56 percent in football, while fifth in the Pac-10, was lower than WSU's federally computed rate of 62. A spokesman said the school had 28 transfers in the 1995-98 period. The Cougars were fourth among Pac-10 schools with 54 in men's basketball, consistently the sport that scores lowest nationally in graduation rates.
Washington women scored high across the board in the GSR rates. The 80 percent earned by the women's basketball teams was lowest among UW women's programs.
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