YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) -- Eastern Michigan University student-athletes have set a new graduation rate record, according to the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) report released today, Nov. 8. In the report made public Wednesday, Eagle student-athletes recorded a Graduation Success Rate of 83 percent, an increase of two points over last year's figures and an 11-point jump from numbers released in 2010-11.
Overall, EMU's score was boosted by 10 programs that matched or exceeded program record GSR scores. The 2017 numbers represent scholarship student-athletes over a six-year period starting with freshmen that entered college in 2010. The record-equaling GSR comes on the heels of 12 programs posting record performances in Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores announced in May.
In the GSR, Eastern Michigan athletic teams improved in six sports including: men's basketball, men's cross country/track, football, men's swimming & diving, women's cross country/track, and women's golf. Women's golf, women's gymnastics, women's tennis, and volleyball each boasted a 100 percent rate.
"Academic success and degree completion are high-priority items for this department," Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee said. "I want to commend our student-athletes for their efforts and ability to balance all of the academic and athletic demands, our coaches for their focus on education first and recruiting talented students to our teams, and our staff for their ongoing support of our student-athletes' academic endeavors."
The GSR is a NCAA measurement that enhances the federally mandated graduation-rate by including student-athlete transfer data in its calculation. It was developed in response to colleges and universities who asked for graduation data that more accurately reflects the mobility among students in today's higher education climate. The report provides information about two groups of students at college or university: (1) all undergraduate students who were enrolled in a full-time program of studies for a degree and (2) student-athletes who received athletics aid from the college or university for any period of time during their entering year.
Among Mid-American Conference schools, Eastern Michigan was first in four sport categories -- men's golf, women's gymnastics, women's tennis, and volleyball. The Eagles finished among the top six MAC schools in 10 sports while overall the department finished with the eighth-best GSR in the league.
Wednesday's GSR report gives graduation information about students and student-athletes who entered EMU in 2010. This is the most recent graduating class for which the required six years of information is available. The GSR differs slightly from the federal graduation rates for several reasons. The GSR is designed to assess the graduation of scholarship student-athletes who initially enroll at an institution during a particular fall or spring semester and earn a baccalaureate degree within six years of their initial collegiate enrollment.
The GSR adds to the first-time freshmen, those students who entered midyear, as well as student-athletes who transferred into an institution and received athletic aid. In addition, the GSR subtracts students from the entering cohort who are considered allowable exclusions, as well as those who left the institution prior to graduation, or had athletics eligibility remaining and would have been academically eligible to compete had they returned to the institution.
The GSR is also different from the Academic Progress Rate (APR), which is a measure of eligibility, retention and graduation for continuing academic progress for current student-athletes on a term-by-term, year-by-year basis.
The federal graduation rate, while less inclusive than the GSR, provides the only measure of historic academic comparison between student-athletes and the general student body. Using this standard, EMU student-athletes outperformed their peers in the student body by 19 percent.
"Student-athletes are reaching their academic goals and earning degrees at record rates," NCAA President Mark Emmert said. "The dramatic improvement in the graduation rate for African-American student-athletes in all sports is a significant achievement, and our student-athletes and member schools should be proud of the work they are doing. The goal of all the NCAA's academic policies and programs is to prepare students for life after college, and graduation is integral to this success."
Division I student-athletes in nearly all sports and demographics improved their graduation rates, most notably a three percentage point increase for African-Americans in all sports, which contributed to a record-high 87 percent Graduation Success Rate. More than three-quarters of African-American college athletes — 77 percent — earned their degrees, up from 74 percent last year. The rate has risen 21 percentage points since 2002.
Graduation Success Rates for Eastern Michigan's women's programs continue to excel. All 10 programs posted GSRs of 83 percent or better, with seven boasting scores above 90 percent.
On the men's side, basketball topped the chart at 91 percent with baseball, golf, and swimming & diving posted GSR figures of 80 percent-or-better.
For more information on Graduation Success Rates, please visit www.ncaa.org.