CINCINNATI -- Xavier University's reputation for having a strong academic tradition among its student-athletes was upheld Thursday with the release of new stats from the NCAA .
The Jesuit university in Avondale posted a score of 97 percent on the NCAA's Graduation Success Rating system . That places the school in a tie for 12th in the nation and earns it the top spot in the new Big East.
Brown University, Dartmouth College and the University of Notre Dame were the top-ranked universities with a 99 rating.
Bucknell University, Colgate University, the College of Holy Cross, Davidson College, Duke University, Harvard University, Lafayette College and Yale University all tied for fourth with a 98 percent.
The University of Dayton was the only other regional college or university to make the top 25 list. UD had a 96 percent to earn a tie for the 17th spot.
According to data from the Xavier Sports Information Department, 10 current XU teams posted a GSR score of 100 percent: men's basketball, men's golf, men's swimming, men's tennis, men's track, women's soccer, women's swimming, women's tennis, women's track and women's volleyball. The Musketeer baseball team was ranked next-highest ranked program at 95 percent, which is still well above the national average.
Xavier led all Big East universities at 97 percent. Creighton University was next at 95 percent. The conference holds an average GSR of 92 percent, with half of the teams being at 92 or better.
Overall, the NCAA says Division I student-athletes who entered college in 2006 earned their degrees at a rate of 82 percent - the highest ever.
By comparison, the latest data shows that Division I student-athletes who entered college in 2006 equaled their highest federal graduation rate of 65 percent – 1 percentage point higher than the general student body at Division I institutions, according to the NCAA>
The most recent one-year graduation figures are bolstered by football student-athletes competing in the Football Bowl Subdivision, who earned a 71 percent GSR, and African-American men’s basketball players, who graduated at a 68 percent rate – the highest ever for those groups. Each group gained one percentage point over the class that entered college in 2005.
The NCAA data found that African-American male student-athletes graduate at a rate 9 percentage points higher than African-American males in the student body (49 percent vs. 40 percent), while African-American female student-athletes outpace their student body counterparts by 13 percentage points (62 percent vs. 49 percent).
“More student-athletes than ever before are earning their college degrees, and we are gratified to see our reform efforts impact the lives of those we serve,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a release. “We have even higher expectations for the future, but we are proud of the progress we have made.”
Men’s basketball and football traditionally earn the lowest graduation rates among all sports.
According to the NCAA, the GSR was developed as a way to accurately track the academic success of student-athletes based on graduation rates over a six-year time frame.
One of the sticky points of the system involves student-athletes who transfer to a university. If a student-athlete transfers from an institution in good academic standing, then the transfers are merely passed on to the new institution. But that changes is the student had academic issues at its past institution.
Regardless of any shortcomings of the system, University of Hartford President Walter Harrison, chair of the Committee on Academic Performance, said the system is working.
“We’re achieving great success through the Academic Performance Program, and our student-athletes, coaches and administrators are working together. They understand the program, and there are more student-athletes graduating,” he said.