Dec. 19, 2005

Sixteen of 20 athletics programs at the University of Notre Dame compiled graduation rates of 100 percent, and none were below 90 percent, according to a new measurement developed by the NCAA.

The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) was created to more accurately reflect actual graduation rates by including transfer data in the calculation. The graduation rate methodology used for the past decade by the Department of Education counts all student-athletes who transfer from or leave an institution for any reason as non-graduates from their initial school, even if they leave in good academic standing.

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. NCAA figures released today showed that, among Notre Dame’s men’s sports, baseball, cross country/track, fencing, ice hockey, soccer, swimming and tennis achieved 100 percent GSR scores. Football scored 96 percent, golf was 92 percent and basketball was 90 percent. (Lacrosse is not included because the program did not offer grants in aid during the years covered in the survey.)

The Irish women’s programs with a GSR of 100 percent were basketball, cross country/track, fencing, golf, lacrosse, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball. Soccer scored a 94 percent GSR.

Among the 119 NCAA Division I-A institutions, Notre Dame had the highest percentage of its sports with 100 percent scores, with a .800 figure (16 of 20).

Here are the top 10 in that category:

Institution Percentage 100 Scores/Sports Rated
1. Notre Dame .800 16/20
2. U.S. Naval Academy .789 15/19
3. Northwestern .722 13/18
4. Duke .714 15/21
5. Illinois .706 12/17
6. SMU .643 9/14
7. Clemson .600 9/15
8. Rice .583 7/12
Vanderbilt .583 7/12
10. Central Florida .571 8/14
Wake Forest .571 8/14

In football, Notre Dame achieved a 96 GSR rating, with only the United States Naval Academy (at 98) ranking higher.

Here are the top 10 in the category:

Institution Football GSR Score
1. U.S. Naval Academy 98
2. Notre Dame 96
Wake Forest 96
4. Clemson 94
5. Vanderbilt 93
6. Northwestern 92
Stanford 92
8. U.S. Air Force Academy 91
U.S. Military Academy 91
10. Boston College 89
Rice 89

When the final regular season USA Today football poll of coaches is re-ranked by football GSR score, Notre Dame (sixth in the actual poll) finishes first in that tabulation at 96, just ahead of Clemson at 94 (23rd in actual poll).

Here’s the re-ranked version of the USA Today poll, based on GSR scores:

Institution Football GSR Score Actual USA Today Ranking
1. Notre Dame 96 6
2. Clemson 94 23
3. Boston College 89 19
4. TCU 86 14
5. Penn State 84 3
6. Florida 80 18
7. Texas Tech 73 15
8. Virginia Tech 72 12
9. Michigan 68 21
10. Miami 67 9
Wisconsin 67 20
12. West Virginia 64 11
13. Oregon 63 5
UCLA 63 17
15. Auburn 59 7
16. Iowa 58 24
17. USC 55 1
18. Ohio State 54 4
19. Georgia Tech 53 24
20. Florida State 52 22
21. LSU 51 10
22. Louisville 47 16
23. Georgia 45 8
24. Texas 40 2
25. Alabama 39 13

The national GSR for Division I-A is 76 percent. Only team rates were released; an aggregate rate for each institution will be announced in late January.

The first-year GSR data is based upon the entering classes from 1995 to 1998.

Todd Petr, the NCAA’s managing director of research, said the total number of students included in the GSR compared with the total included under the federal mandate is evidence that the new methodology provides a more comprehensive assessment. The GSR is an analysis of more than 91,000 student-athletes, while the most recent federal measurement – which did not count transfer students – was for 67,000 students.

“Clearly, the federal methodology has been missing a significant number of scholarship student-athletes who are competing on NCAA teams,” Petr said. “By the old standards, some 24,000 students who contributed on the field of play were not included in the calculation of the rate. Additionally, more than 16,000 students who left institutions in good academic standing were universally viewed as academic failures.”

The GSR should not be confused with another new NCAA initiative, the Academic Progress Rate, which uses a series of formulas related to student-athlete retention and eligibility to measure the academic performance of all participants who receive a grant-in-aid on every team at every NCAA Division I college and university.

In addition to the GSR, the NCAA will continue to compile data and release results based upon the federally mandated methodology.