BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The academic success of Western Washington University student-athletes has earned national acclaim.
The Vikings were one of 32 NCAA Division II schools to earn the Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence, awarded to schools having an Academic Success Rate of 90 percent or higher in the latest NCAA Graduation Rate report released in October. Western student-athletes entering college from 2007 to 2010 had an ASR of 90 percent, the school’s best mark in the 12 years of reporting ASR data.
That rate is 18 percent higher than the national NCAA Division II average of 72 percent, and also significantly higher than the average in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (76 percent).
“To be honored with the Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence is really a testament to the quality of the student-athletes and coaches we have at Western,” said WWU Director of Athletics Steve Card. “To persevere the academic rigors of WWU along with the requirements of being a student-athlete, and achieving the level of success we’ve achieved, speaks to the quality of our athletics program.”
The NCAA developed the Division II ASR at the request of college and university presidents who believed the graduation rate formula mandated by the federal government was flawed. Given the partial-scholarship financial aid model of Division II, the ASR data includes student-athletes not on athletically related financial aid. In addition, Division II's ASR data takes transfer students into account and removes students who left the institution in good academic standing. The result is that ASR captures more than 35,000 non-scholarship student-athletes.
Viking student-athletes entering school in 2010 graduated at an 83 percent rate, compared to 69 percent for the full set of freshmen entering WWU that year. Across Division II, student-athletes are performing better than the general student body. The federal rate for Division II student-athletes in the 2010 entering class was 56 percent, while the general student body was 50 percent. Freshmen entering WWU in 2010 graduated at a 69 percent rate.
Making the WWU Athletics numbers even more impressive has been its success in competition, in addition to the classroom. During the 2016-17 seasons, the Vikings finished 11th among 307 NCAA II schools in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup national all-sports standings, the 14th consecutive top 50 finish for the Vikings. The school won NCAA II team titles in women’s soccer and rowing, the 10th and 11th national championships in WWU Athletics history.
WWU is one of only five Division II programs to earn the Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence and also rank in the top 20 in last year’s Directors’ Cup standings. Western joins California Baptist, UC San Diego, Florida Southern College and the University of Indianapolis.
“Division II operates with a ‘Life in the Balance’ approach, emphasizing learning, growth and development through academics, athletics, community engagement, and post-graduation success,” said Glen Jones, chair of the Division II Presidents Council. “Academics is a key component of this balance, and I am proud of the commitment our schools have made to this philosophy and the magnificent achievements of our student-athletes.”
Among the 24 NCAA Division II conferences, the Great Northwest Athletic Conference ranked 6th with a federal graduation rate of 61 percent and tied for 9th with an academic success rate of 76 percent. The conference has ranked among the division’s top 10 conferences in both categories for seven consecutive years.
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 Snapchat at @WWUAthletics.
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