Reviewing ACC Basketball Graduation Rates

Posted by KCarpenter on October 26th, 2011

To be honest, on average, the graduation rates for men’s college basketball players have  increased everywhere. To be completely honest, the graduation rates for student-athletes as a whole have improved. Still, let’s take a minute and appreciate how this trend holds up in the Atlantic Coast Conference: All in all, basketball players are graduating at better rates that they once did in the ACC, and at a rate that’s better than the national average for men’s college basketball players. So, that’s something.

But is it the whole story? No, but since the NCAA loves nothing if not thorough documentation, we can get at least get a clearer view of the story. The NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) is a modified version of a rolling measure called the Federal Graduation Rate (FGR). The Federal Graduation Rate for a given year is the percentage of an incoming freshmen class that graduates at that institution within six years of entry, averaged with the three classes that preceded it. The FGR does not count any player who transferred to another university and graduated or otherwise left the university. The NCAA’s measure, GSR, tries to account for the fact that lots of athletes transfer to other universities, and, at least in a few sports, enter the professional leagues. So, in short, the GSR is in some ways, an inflated version of the Federal Graduation Rate, where an athlete can get counted as “graduated” as long as they leave the university in good academic standing. It almost makes sense, but since it’s the NCAA’s preferred metric, we’ll roll with it.  (ed. note: see our previous article this morning for Matt’s take on the value of graduation rates to the NCAA)

Now, because of the six year window that both rates use to count graduation, the numbers that were released this year deal with the players who entered a given university between 2001-02 and 2004-05.  So, while these numbers can give a good indicator in the general direction a program is heading, the data isn’t particularly timely.  Still, looking at the past and looking at how the data is trending can give a useful glimpse into the present.

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Maryland Responds

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2007

With respect to yesterday’s story about Gary Williams’ 0% graduation rate, Maryland has since responded with a press release stating that all ten of its players that qualified under the latest GSR ratings left school before graduation to pursue professional basketball careers. These players include:

  • Chris Wilcox (left after two seasons for the NBA draft)
  • Juan Dixon (four-year player)
  • Lonny Baxter (four-year player)
  • Steve Blake (four-year player)
  • Terrence Morris (four-year player)
  • Tahj Holden (four-year player)
  • Drew Nicholas (four-year player)
  • Byron Mouton (transfer who completed eligibility at Maryland)
  • Jamar Smith (transfer who completed eligibility at Maryland)
  • Ryan Randle (transfer who completed eligibility at Maryland)

In response, Gary Williams stated, “These people are very successful people. If you go to school to improve yourself economically, where have they failed? They make more than the average college graduate. Far more. If you’re judging them just based on getting a degree, then OK, they haven’t gotten a degree.”

Gary & Bonnie

Betcha Bonnie Bernstein Got Her Degree

While we’re perfectly willing to hear GW out here, the fact of the matter is that only one of the above players left school early for the guaranteed millions (Wilcox). The other nine players exhausted their playing eligibility, and yet none of them graduated within the six-year window. Gary doesn’t see a problem with this?

He acts like Maryland was the only school to have its players move on to successful professional careers, whether here in the US or overseas. Sure, the Terps had some nasty teams in 2001 & 2002, but so did its archrival down on Tobacco Road (Duke) who still managed to graduate 67% of its players despite losing several to the League. Same thing with Michigan St. (67%), who went to three straight F4s from 1999 to 2001. Arizona (25%) and UConn (22%) were also loaded squads (Arizona – 1997 and 2001; UConn – 1999 and 2004), and yet neither of them pulled an aught – at least they graduated somebody.

Sorry, Gary, while we recognize that Maryland has improved its graduation rate in the interim (Maryland reports that four of last year’s six seniors graduated, and both of this year’s are on pace), we also have to recognize the reality that the program on your watch has consistently finished at the bottom of the ACC in this regard. It may not be at 0% for the duration of your career in College Park, but it’s painfully evident that your program places minimal emphasis on getting a degree. Shame on you.

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Gary Williams Hates Graduation

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2007

Yesterday the NCAA released its latest graduation rate figures for all D1 athletes who entered school in the classes of 1997-2000. Unlike the federally-mandated graduation rate, the GSR (Graduate Success Rate) is more realistic for athletes – it gives each player six years to complete his degree and it does not count transfer students against a school (reflecting the reality of athlete puddle-jumping for playing time in D1).

Here are the NCAA’s key findings:

The latest GSR figures show that 77 percent of student-athletes who began college from 1997-2000 graduated within six years. That four-year graduation rate is unchanged from last year’s data and up from 76 percent two years ago.

The Graduation Success Rate for men’s basketball rose from 55.8 percent in 1995 to 63.6 percent in 2000, a 7.8 percent increase. Football increased from 63.1 percent to 66.6 percent for teams competing in the Bowl Subdivision and from 62 percent to 64.7 percent for teams competing in the Championship Subdivision. Baseball increased from 65.3 percent to 67.3 percent.

Gary Williams chicken wing

Gary is Too Busy to Worry About Graduation Rates

Since the NCAA doesn’t provide a sortable database of team information (or at least we can’t find it), we decided to quickly throw together some tables showing how the BCS schools performed in this cohort. Gary Williams should be especially proud of himself. Seriously, Gary, the best you can do with those Juan Dixon/Lonny Baxter teams is zero?!? Not even ONE player???

Big 10 + ACC GSRs 07

Big East + SEC GSRs 07

Big 12 + Pac-10 GSRs 07


  • At the high end, Florida St. at 100% makes us wonder if any of these stats are credible. Then again, Florida is also at 100%, and these numbers are around 2000, so maybe there was a hanging chad issue or something. We’re also amazed that Eddie Sutton’s band of merry criminals men led the Big 12.
  • At the low end, Jim Calhoun at UConn, Lute Olson at Arizona, Tim Floyd/Larry Eustachy at Iowa St., Ron Jirsa/Jim Harrick at Georgia, and the seediest of all, Clem Haskins at Minnesota, join Gary Williams in the dregs of their respective conferences. What a list of slimy characters there.
  • The Pac-10 is surprisingly low, given that Stanford, Cal, UCLA and USC are all great schools. Especially Stanford – how can Mike Montgomery justify graduating only 2/3 of his players? Guess he doesn’t have to at this point – or does he? And the SEC is surprisingly high, with Alabama, the Mississippi schools and South Carolina doing well.

We may have more thoughts on this later, but we’re heading for the airport at the moment, so it’ll have to wait.

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