Oct. 31, 2011

The University of Notre Dame can once again claim the 2011 national championship for graduating its student-athletes.

Both the federal graduation-rate figures and the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) numbers for all Notre Dame student-athletes rate the Irish first among the 120 football-playing institutions in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).

This marks the fifth year in a row Notre Dame has led the way among FBS institutions in GSR ratings for all student-athletes–and it’s the second year in a row Notre Dame has been number one in the federal rates. Whether measured by the federal government in its Department of Education report or by the NCAA through its GSR numbers, graduation rates for Notre Dame student-athletes one again rank either number one or among the handful of national leaders in five major categories among all major football-playing colleges and universities.

Notre Dame’s institutional research found that Irish student-athletes rank number one in eight of 10 major categories–ranking tied for second in one and fifth in the other. Those match the best results for Notre Dame in the seven years the NCAA has published both the GSR and federal numbers. The eight number-one rankings equal the same number of top rankings that came each of the last two years (in 2009 and 2010 figures).

For the third year in a row Notre Dame leads the nation in all five GSR categories–for all student-athletes (at 99), male student-athletes (98), female student-athletes (100), black student-athletes (98) and football student-athletes (97, up one point from 2010). Notre Dame also ranks number one in the federal numbers for all student-athletes (91), male student-athletes (87) and female student-athletes (96).

In calculations that include all student-athletes in all sports, Notre Dame ranks first among the FBS schools in the GSR figures, which were initiated in 2005 by the NCAA. The University’s 99 percent GSR for all its student-athletes ranks ahead of the 97 figures for Duke and Boston College. Using the federal formula, Notre Dame graduated a four-year average of 91 percent of its student-athletes, just ahead of Stanford at 90.

Notre Dame graduated 96 percent of all women competing in varsity athletics, to rank first among its peer institutions based on the federal calculations (ahead of Stanford and Rice at 94). Among men, Notre Dame’s 87 percent federal rate also was first, ahead of Stanford and Northwestern at 86. Notre Dame graduated 85 percent of its black student-athletes, ranking tied for second nationally (behind Rice) based on the federal rate, and Irish football players graduated at an 83 percent rate, to rank fifth.

In the GSR standings, the Irish scored a clean sweep in all five categories. In addition to its number-one ranking for all student-athletes, Notre Dame finished by itself in first among female student athletes at 100, first among male student-athletes at 98 percent (ahead of Duke and the U.S. Naval Academy at 96), first among football players at 97 percent, and first among black student-athletes at 98 percent (ahead of runner-up Rice at 96).

2011 NCAA Graduation Rates
All data for student-athletes who enrolled between 2001 and 2004 (numbers are percentages)

All Student-Athletes

Federal Rate
1. Notre Dame, 91
2. Stanford, 90
3. Northwestern, 88
4. (tie) Duke, Boston College, Rice, 85
7. (tie) Penn State, Wake Forest, 79
9. (tie) Michigan, Virginia, 76

1. Notre Dame, 99
2. (tie) Duke, Boston College, 97
4. (tie) Northwestern, U.S. Naval Academy, 96
6. Rice, 95
7. (tie) Stanford, Wake Forest, 94
9. Vanderbilt, 92
10.Virginia Tech, 91

Male Student-Athletes

Federal Rate
1. Notre Dame, 87
2. (tie) Northwestern, Stanford, 86
4. (tie) Duke, Boston College, 80
6. Rice, 78
7. (tie) Penn State, Wake Forest, 75
9. Vanderbilt, 72
10. Miami (Ohio), 71

1. Notre Dame, 98
2. (tie) Duke, U.S. Naval Academy, 96
4. Boston College, 95
5. Northwestern, 94
6. Rice, 93
7. Stanford, 92
8. Wake Forest, 91
9. (tie) U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, 90

Female Student-Athletes

Federal Rate
1. Notre Dame, 96
2. (tie) Rice, Stanford, 94
4. (tie) Duke, Northwestern, 91
6. (tie) Boston College, Wake Forest, 89
8. (tie) Bowling Green, North Carolina, 88
10. Virginia, 87

1. Notre Dame, 100
2. (tie) Boston College, Duke, U.S. Naval Academy, Wake Forest, 99
6. (tie) Northwestern, Rice, 98
8. (tie) Miami (Ohio), Stanford, 97
10. Bowling Green, 96

Black Student-Athletes

Federal Rate
1. Rice, 93
2. (tie) Notre Dame, Northwestern, 85
4. Stanford, 77
5. (tie) Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, 76
7. Duke, 74
8. (tie) Penn State, Rutgers, 73
10. Miami (Ohio), 70

1. Notre Dame, 98
2. Rice, 96
3. Duke, 91
4. (tie) Boston College, Northwestern, 90
6. Miami (Fla.), 88
7. (tie) Penn State, Vanderbilt, 87
9. (tie) Rutgers, U.S. Naval Academy, 86

Football Student-Athletes

Federal Rate
1. Boston College, 87
2. Northwestern, 86
3. (tie) Rice, Stanford, 84
5. Notre Dame, 83
6. Penn State, 80
7. Duke, 79
8. Rutgers, 76
9. TCU, 75
10. Miami (Ohio), 73

1. Notre Dame, 97
2. Northwestern, 94
3. (tie) Boston College, Duke, Rice, 93
6. U.S. Naval Academy, 91
7. Rutgers, 89
8. (tie) Miami (Fla.), U.S. Military Academy, 88
10. (tie) Penn State, Stanford, 87

Since the NCAA first published GSR numbers in 2005, here are the trends for Notre Dame in all 10 categories over the seven years of graduation rates (includes ranking and raw graduation percentage; SA stands for student-athletes):

Category 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
All SAs Fed. 1st at 90 2nd at 89 3rd at 89 2nd at 89 2nd at 90 1st at 91 1st at 91
GSR 2nd at 98 2nd at 98 1st at 98 1st at 98 1st at 99 1st at 99 1st at 99
Male SAs Fed. 1st at 87 1st at 87 3rd at 85 2nd at 87 1st at 88 1st at 87 1st at 87
GSR 2nd at 98 2nd at 97 2nd at 97 2nd at 97 1st at 98 1st at 98 1st at 98
Female SAs Fed. 1st at 96 2nd at 94 1st at 94 1st at 93 1st at 94 1st at 94 1st at 94
GSR 5th at 99 2nd at 99 1st at 100 1st at 100 1st at 100 1st at 100 1st at 100
Black SAs Fed. 6th at 78 6th at 84 8th at 75 1st at 84 1st at 85 2nd at 86 2nd at 85
GSR 6th at 93 3rd at 95 4th at 91 2nd at 96 1st at 97 1st at 98 1st at 98
Football SAs Fed. 4th at 85 6th at 84 6th at 79 4th at 85 3rd at 85 4th at 85 5th at 83
GSR 2nd at 96 3rd at 95 3rd at 93 2nd at 94 1st at 96 1st at 96 1st at 97

Over the seven years worth of numbers of both the federal rates and the GSR, Notre Dame had 70 possible rankings in the five categories (among the FBS institutions) and 35 times ranked first, 17 times ranked second and six times ranked third.

The federally mandated NCAA Graduation-Rates Report, the 21st such survey issued by the association, covers students who enrolled between 2001 and 2004 at all Division I institutions. The federal graduation rates are based on the raw percentage of student-athletes who entered an institution and graduated within six years. Students who leave or transfer, regardless of academic standing, are considered non-graduates. All those receiving athletics aid are included in the statistics. All military academies are exempt from the federal survey because they do not offer grants-in-aid to student-athletes. The GSR was created to more accurately reflect actual graduation rates by including transfer data in the calculation. College and university presidents asked the NCAA to develop a new methodology that takes into account the mobility among students in today’s higher education environment. Research indicates that approximately 60 percent of all new bachelor’s degree recipients are attending more than one undergraduate institution during their collegiate careers.