Jan. 31, 2017
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The latest NCAA report on graduation rates shows Western Washington University student-athletes graduating at unprecedented levels.
Data recently released by the NCAA shows that based on both the federally mandated graduation rate and the NCAA Academic Success Rate, WWU student-athletes who entered as part of the 2009-10 freshman class graduated at a rate well above the national average for Division II.
The 2016 findings show 85 percent of Viking student-athletes received their degrees in six years or less based on the Federal Graduation Rate formula, the highest rate in the 11 years of reporting data. That percentage was significantly higher than both the national average for NCAA II schools (56 percent), and the average rate of the 10 U.S. schools in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (60 percent).
Using the NCAA Academic Success Rate, which includes all freshmen student-athletes from the fall of 2009 and also accounts for student-athletes who transfer into or out of the institution, WWU posted an 86 percent success rate, 15 percentage points better than the NCAA II national number of 71 percent. The average ASR of the nine GNAC schools included in the report was 74 percent.
“Our student-athletes continue to raise the bar, both in the classroom and on the field of play,” said Director of Athletics Steve Card. “The numbers speak for themselves, which can be attributed directly to the quality of the young men and women that our coaches are recruiting and mentoring throughout their collegiate careers.”
The 2016 Federal Graduation Rate Reports are based on student-athletes who entered universities during the 2009-2010 academic year and graduated in six years or less. Student-athletes are defined as those "who received athletics aid" such as grants, scholarships, tuition waivers or other assistance from the institution upon initial enrollment.
This is the 11th year the NCAA has released the ASR. The NCAA developed the Division II ASR at the request of college and university presidents who believed the federal graduation rate was flawed. Division II's ASR data takes transfer students into account and removes students who left the institution in good academic standing. In addition, given the partial-scholarship financial aid model of Division II, the ASR data includes student-athletes not on athletically related financial aid. The result is that ASR captures more than 35,000 non-scholarship student-athletes.
“Western athletes display excellence in the classroom, in their sports, and in their leadership and volunteerism,” said Dr. Eileen Coughlin, WWU’s Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services. “They represent Western’s commitment to ‘Active Minds, Changing Lives’ and their graduation rates reflect the deeply embedded values of Western Washington University.”
Even when utilizing the less-inclusive federal rate, Division II student-athletes perform significantly better than the general student body. The federal rate for Division II student-athletes in the 2009 entering class was 55 percent, while the general student body was 48 percent. Freshmen entering WWU in 2009 graduated at a 71 percent rate.
Making the WWU Athletics numbers even more impressive has been its success on the field. In 2015-16 the Vikings were 26th among 307 NCAA II schools in the Sports Director's Cup national all-sports standings, the 13th straight Top 50 finish for the Vikings, and WWU won its eighth consecutive GNAC All-Sports championship.
The success has carried over this the 2016-17 season, with WWU ranking 6th in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup NCAA Division II standings following the Fall Championships season. WWU finished the fall sports season with 214 points, bolstered by 100 points for the National Championship by the women’s soccer team, 64 points for a regional final appearance by the volleyball program and 50 points for the men’s soccer team reaching the second round in its first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
WWU was one of only three schools in all of the NCAA Division II to have women’s soccer, men’s soccer and women’s volleyball programs each qualify for the national NCAA II tournament, joining Rockhurst and Adelphi.
The Great Northwest Athletic Conference ranked sixth among NCAA Division II’s 24 conferences with a 60 percent federal graduation rate according to data released on Nov. 15 by the NCAA. The percentage is four points higher than the graduation rate of 56 percent for all students at GNAC member institutions.
The GNAC was one of four conferences in Division II with a 60 percent graduation rate, joining the East Coast Conference, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Sunshine State Conference. The Northeast-10 Conference has Division II’s top graduation rate at 70 percent.
The winter sports are primed to boost this ranking even higher with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams nationally ranked with matching 17-3 overall records and 11-1 in GNAC play.
For more information on WWU’s 15 varsity sports programs, visit WWUVikings.com. Fans and alumni can also track all the teams via social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snap Chat at @WWUAthletics.
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