WWU shines again in NCAA graduation rate report
Oct. 26, 2011
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The latest NCAA report on graduation rates shows Western Washington University student-athletes once again graduating at rates well above the national average for NCAA Division II.
Data released by the NCAA show that based on both the federally mandated graduation rate and the NCAA Academic Success Rate, Western student-athletes who entered as part of the 2004-05 freshman class graduated at a rate 14 percent better than the national average for Division II.
"We are extremely proud of our athletes, who strive to be their very best, in the classroom as well as in athletic competition. The exceptional achievements of Western athletes in both academics and athletics reflects a standard of excellence that can be found throughout our campus," said Western President Bruce Shepard.
The 2011 findings show 69 percent of Viking student-athletes receive their degrees in six years or less based on the Federal Graduation Rate formula. That was higher than both the national average for NCAA II schools (55 percent), and the average of the nine U.S. schools in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (56 percent). The 69 percent graduation rate is equal to the impressive rate for all freshmen who entered Western in fall of 2004.
"Western athletes excel due to their outstanding efforts and a clear understanding of priorities. The university provides a culture of learning that emphasizes both academics and athletics, as shown by this report," said Eileen Coughlin, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services.
Using the NCAA Academic Success Rate, which includes all freshman student-athletes from the fall of 2004 and also accounts for student-athletes who transfer into or out of the institution, Western posted an 88 percent success rate, 15 percentage points better than the NCAA II national number of 73 percent. The average ASR of the nine GNAC schools was 77 percent.
"After being ranked among the top 10 for the third straight time last June in the NCAA II Director's Cup standings among 310 schools, these graduation numbers illustrate again how athletic competitiveness and academic excellence are one in the same at Western," said director of athletics Lynda Goodrich. "This says a great deal about our program and what it is accomplishing."
The 2011 Federal Graduation Rate Reports are based on student-athletes who entered universities during the 2004-05 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.
The impressive showing is part of a consistent pattern for Western, as its four-year (2001-2004) cohort for the federal report graduated at a 66 percent rate. The national ASR for the entering class of 2004 is 73 percent, which is equal to last year's rate. The national four-year average increased one percent to 72 percent.
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 2004 entering class is 55 percent while the general student body was 49 percent, a difference of 6 percent.
This is the sixth year the NCAA has released the Division 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 is similar to the Division I Graduation Success Rate as it takes transfer students in account. However, given the partial-scholarship financial aid model of Division II, ASR also includes student-athletes not on athletically related financial aid. The result is that ASR captures more than 36,000 non-scholarship student-athletes.
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