Latest NCAA report shows record graduation rate for Minn. athletes

by Andrew Baker

The Gophers football team may be struggling on the field, but its players, along with the rest of the UniversityâÄôs student-athletes, are graduating at an all-time high rate, according to an NCAA report released Wednesday. The annual graduation success report (GSR) showed that 79 percent of student-athletes who entered the University between 2000 and 2003 graduated, up three points from the number released last year and 11 points from 2006. This yearâÄôs figure is MinnesotaâÄôs highest mark since the NCAA began officially releasing such data in 2005. However, both the football and menâÄôs basketball teams rank second to last in the Big Ten, according to the report. The Federal Graduation Rate among athletes, 70 percent, exceeded the UniversityâÄôs overall graduation rate of 68 percent. Unlike the GSR, the FGR only counts students who started and finished at the same school. In menâÄôs sports, baseball, swimming and diving, track and field, cross-country and tennis each posted GSR rates of 84 percent or better. All 11 womenâÄôs sports graduated at least 75 percent of their athletes, with six of those 11 graduating more than 90 percent. âÄúI am very pleased to report that our Gopher student-athletes have once again made significant strides in improving our graduation success rate,âÄù athletic director Joel Maturi said in a release. âÄúAcademic success and degree completion are high-priority items for this department and I want to commend our student-athletes, coaches, and faculty, as well as the McNamara Academic Center staff for the commitment and hard work that went in to achieving these results.âÄù Non-revenue sports werenâÄôt alone in showing academic improvement. The menâÄôs basketball graduation success rate has more than doubled in the past six years, while that of the football team has increased from 41 to 56 percent. According to the report, 90 percent of student-athletes who finished their playing eligibility graduated.