Message from NCAA President - So much for the 'dumb jock' theory
Jan. 23, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -
by Myles Brand, NCAA President
We are making life difficult for our critics.
Actually, our student-athletes are the bane of our critics because of their academic success. Our most recent graduation-rates research shows that almost eight of every 10 Division I student-athletes earn their degree in a six-year window, and about seven of every 10 Division II student-athletes do so as well.
To those who say that student-athletes are "dumb jocks," I say, "Who's calling whom dumb?"
Our Graduation Success Rate - which the NCAA created as a more accurate measure of graduation success than the federally mandated methodology that does not take transfers into account - shows that for the most recent cohort (the entering class of 2001), 79 percent of Division I student-athletes earned their degrees. For the rolling, four-year aggregate, the rate is 78 percent. Both rates are up one percentage point from last year.
In Division II, which uses a similar metric that factors not only transfers into the calculation but also the thousands of nonscholarship players at that level, the entering class of 2001 graduated at a 71 percent rate, up two percentage points from the previous class.
Now, these are rates the NCAA developed. While they more accurately reflect the transfer culture in higher education (and in doing so, capture about 37 percent more students than the federal rate in Division I alone), there is not a similar rate by which to compare graduation success of the general student body (the U.S. Department of Education has ignored requests to adopt our standard). Thus, from time to time, critics will say that we've "cooked the books" to put student-athletes in a more favorable light.
OK, let's compare apples to apples. Using the federal graduation-rates methodology, student-athletes still come out on top. Student-athletes entering Division I institutions in 2001 graduated at their highest rate ever - 64 percent - a rate that has increased four points during the past six years. The most recent student-body graduation rate was 62 percent. The difference is even more impressive at Division II institutions - many of which by virtue of state law are open enrollment - where student-athletes graduate on average nine percentage points higher than their student-body counterparts.
All of this supports what most of us already know - that participation in intercollegiate athletics is beneficial to the educational experience. Indeed, with each cohort collected, the noise from critics softens. And there is good reason to believe that student-athlete academic success will only continue to rise as more reforms are implemented in the coming years.
That may not be good news to the critics, but it is to anyone who has believed - as I have for many years - that jocks aren't so dumb after all.
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