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ND no. 1 for athlete grad rates

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, October 30, 2008

For the third time in four years, Notre Dame ranked No. 1 among the 119 Football Bowl Subdivision institutions in the NCAA’s 2008 report on student athlete graduation rates.

The annual report, released Oct. 14, showed that 19 of Notre Dame’s 22 programs received Graduation Success Rate (GSR) figures of 100, resulting in a .863 percentage, which placed the University ahead of Northwestern (.789), Boston College (.740), Duke (.681), Vanderbilt (.667), Wake Forest (.642), Stanford (.629), U.S. Naval Academy (.578), Rice (.539) and Tulane (.500).

The 2008 national GSR for Division I-A is 78 percent, a news release from Notre Dame Athletics said. The GSR data show the percentage of student athletes earning a degree in six years.

All 11 of the women’s athletic programs – basketball, cross country and track, fencing, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball – received perfect scores of 100.

Eight of the men’s sports programs – basketball, baseball, cross country and track, lacrosse, fencing, soccer, swimming and tennis – received perfect scores of 100.

The three programs that did not receive perfect scores did, however, all receive scores in the 90s. Hockey received a score of 96, football a score of 94 and golf a score of 90.

“It is a testament to the philosophy of the University in terms of athletics that graduation should be a routine part of the experience,” said John Heisler, the senior associate athletics director for media and broadcast relations at Notre Dame.

Heisler credited the high scores this year, and in each of the four years the survey has been conducted, to the athletes, coaches and academic advisors, but also to the “culture of Notre Dame.”

“It’s a message probably that is sent early on, in the recruiting process. If you are interested in coming to college and not going to class and sleeping late and doing nothing but concentrating on athletics, then Notre Dame isn’t going to be the place for you,” he said. “The idea is that athletics is only going to take you so far, no matter how accomplished you are as an athlete.”

This year’s numbers are consistent with how Notre Dame has performed in the past, Heisler said, and in some areas, Notre Dame improved. Last year, 18 of the University’s 22 athletic programs received a GSR score of 100.

“I suppose, in a lot of cases, that the numbers are impressive enough that the goal is probably perfection,” Heisler said. “You’d like to see 100s across the board.”

The 2007 NCAA report showed Notre Dame had a percentage of .818 (18 of 22), which made it No. 1. In 2006, Notre Dame’s percentage was .773 (17 of 22), which placed it at the No. 2 rank behind the U.S. Naval Academy. In 2005, Notre Dame’s score was .800 (16 of 20), which resulted in a No. 1 rank, according to a news release on the Notre Dame Athletics Web site.

The numbers released in the fourth year of the NCAA GSR survey are based upon entering classes from 1998 to 2001.

According to the Notre Dame Athletics Web site, the GSR was developed four years ago to account for transfer student athletes and others not tracked by federal graduation rate accounting, to account for increased mobility of students. Under these standards, schools are not penalized for students who transfer from the institution in good academic standing.