Grad rates up among Sweet 16

Published 2:38 am Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Only four of the 32 teams left in the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments have a graduation success rate under 50 percent, according to a new study.

An updated annual report by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics released Wednesday showed that all 16 women’s teams left graduate at least half of their players. Of the 16 men’s teams left, only four — Kentucky, Florida, Connecticut and Arizona — didn’t have graduation success rates above 50 percent.

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Six of the women’s teams and one men’s team had 100 percent graduation success rates. Also, 13 women’s teams and two men’s teams have a GSR above 90 percent.

Study author Richard Lapchick said it marked the best round of 16 report card his group has issued.

“It shows that you can literally be at the top level of your sport and still do well academically,” Lapchick said.

“That’s a big statement to people who say it can’t be done.”

Lapchick’s group released its annual graduation rate study’s on both tournaments last week, looking at the GSRs and Academic Progress Rates of all qualifying schools. It showed that all the women’s teams graduated at least 50 percent of their players compared with 76 percent of the men’s teams reaching the 50 percent mark.

If the schools were re-seeded based on their GSRs, Brigham Young (100 percent) would be a No. 1 seed in the men’s bracket. On the women’s side Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford and Tennessee would tie to be top seeds with their 100 percent rates.

Information was collected by the NCAA from member institutions for the study. The institute reviewed the six-year graduation rates of each school’s freshman class that enrolled in 2003-04, then calculated a four-class average.

The NCAA created the Academic Progress Rate in 2004 to improve graduation rates, disciplining schools in the form of lost scholarships when they don’t meet the NCAA standard for academic performance. Teams that score below 925 — equal to a graduation rate of 50 percent— can lose up to 10 percent of their scholarships.

The APR data does not include data from the 2009-10 academic performances of teams in the study, but instead uses the four-year data from the 2005-06 to 2008-09 academic years.

Using the APR standard, only San Diego State (921) failed to record an APR of 925. But, according to reports, it won’t be subject to concurrent penalties by the NCAA when the new rolling four-year APR is released later this year.