Catching up on grad rates

Did you know that the NCAA released its updated graduation rate data back in November? Me neither. Isn't it a rule that the AP has to file a wire story on that? Should be. (Edit - looking back, there WAS a story comparing the bowl teams that cited the numbers and racial gaps therein, but nothing along the lines of "hey, here's the new data, it's out today.")

Anyway, I just recently became aware of this, after reading a story on the The Bootleg, Stanford's Scout.com affiliate. They went through all of the NCAA's data and filed everything in a neat little table. Certain numbers (Oregon and Texas football, UConn and Maryland basketball) are eye opening. Unfortunately, they then follow up with some naked speculation in their Big East football breakdown.

Connecticut once again leads the Big East in graduation rates, but Rutgers is coming on strong. Rutgers has raised its graduation rate from 55% to 81% in just two years, which is remarkable. In fact, it's such a remarkable improvement in a four-year rolling average that we wonder a little bit about that.

Given how the Graduation Success Rate formula (the one that doesn't count transfers) actually works (a multiple year rolling average which isn't compiled for six years after freshmen enroll), the "two years" occurred nearly a decade ago. The 2007 report covered players that enrolled between 1997-2000, i.e., before Greg Schiano had assumed his current job. Merely by dropping 1997 and including Schiano's first class, last year's GSR jumped from 55% to 70%. Now, counting two years of Schiano, it's up to 81%. Once again, I point anyone interested back towards a really good Ledger article from two years ago on the subject.

Although the numbers are not official, the graduation rates for players Schiano began recruiting in 2001 don't bear out Glickman's assumptions. Eleven of the 18 players (61 percent) that Schiano brought to Rutgers his first year earned degrees, and 14 of Schiano's 20 recruits in 2002 have already graduated (70 percent).

Those numbers are likely to fall off for the class that entered in 2003, which experienced significantly more turnover than Schiano's first two classes as the quality of players Schiano recruited in later years continued to improve -- meaning some of the earlier recruits were benched for younger, more talented players.

Let's be clear about one thing: the whole idea behind rolling average formula is a pretty crummy in general, and there are similar issues with the Academic Progress Rate metric. Two years ago, some dope could say Rutgers football only graduates 55% of its players, when that data was a decade old. This stat as a whole remains less than informative, but now we're at least starting to get a pretty good picture of how things started to change nine years ago. Spending vigorously on academic support instead of cutting corners, evaluating the right kind of players, and making them accountable for their behavior seems to work. It's not exactly rocket science, which should make readers all that more leery of the programs that still don't manage to graduate many players.

That's a pretty good pitch for prospective players and their parents. Student athletes get their diploma. It's one of a handful of programs with a decent graduation rate for African Americans. Oh, and this, this should on a bronze plaque in front of the Hale Center.

According to a 2009 report, by mid-career the average University alumnus is earning $93,000 as compared to the average Columbia alumnus earning $100,000 by the same point in time. This is especially impressive when you consider how much less our University alumnus invested in their education. Moreover, the average mid-career University alumnus earns nearly $9,000 more than their Pennsylvania State counterpart, who takes home $84,600.

Update: in response to R-year's question, here's the study.

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