Gophers athletes’ graduation rates reach record high

Nickalas Tabbert

University of Minnesota student-athletes are seeing higher graduation rates, posting a record-high Graduation Success Rate of 83 percent, according to the NCAA’s 2012 GSR report released this week.

The GSR report represents data from first-time freshmen, student-athletes who entered at midyear and student-athletes who transferred into the University of Minnesota between 2002 and 2005. It excludes student-athletes who transfer from the University in good academic standing.

The score of 83 percent is a three-point improvement over Minnesota’s GSR announced last year by the NCAA and a 16-point jump since the NCAA began releasing Graduation Success Rate figures in 2005.

“We are extremely pleased with the latest Graduation Success Rate report and the improvements our student-athletes continue to make in this area,” Minnesota athletics director Norwood Teague said. “Academic success and degree completion are important components of our vision for Gopher Athletics, and I am proud of the achievements of our student-athletes.”

Teague said current student-athletes are also faring well in the classroom. The cumulative GPA at the end of last spring was 3.18 for all student-athletes, with 22 of 25 teams reporting cumulative team GPAs over 3.0.

“Strong performances in the classroom will continue to be our goal,” he said.

Eleven of Minnesota's women's programs posted GSR figures of 83 percent or higher. Eight programs scored better than 90 percent, with golf, gymnastics, tennis and volleyball all posting perfect scores of 100 percent. Women's basketball, gymnastics and swimming increased by at least 10 percent.

For men’s programs, gymnastics and tennis had perfect graduation rates. Swimming, along with track and field and cross country, had rates of 82 and 86 percent, respectively.

The men’s basketball and football programs have increased their rates over the past six years. Basketball moved from 38 percent in 2000 to 54 percent in 2005. The 2005 mark is the ninth best in the Big Ten conference. Football moved from 49 percent in 2000 to 69 percent in 2005. The 2005 mark is tied for seventh best in the conference.

Nationally, men’s basketball and football traditionally have posted the lowest graduation rates among all sports, the NCAA said. But in the 11 years since GSR data have been collected, men’s basketball is up 18 points and FBS football is up 7 points.

The NCAA also released Federal Graduation Rates in the report, which counts all student-athletes who transfer from or leave an institution for any reason as non-graduates from their initial school, even if they leave in good academic standing and subsequently graduate from another institution.

Minnesota student-athletes increased their rate by eight percent, from 66 to 74 percent. The report also said the Federal Graduation Rate for student-athletes at Minnesota is four points higher than the rate for all University of Minnesota students of 70 percent.