Student-athletes Score Higher Graduation Rates

December 20, 2011

At many universities, student-athletes are less likely than other students to graduate. But at VCU, it’s the opposite: Athletes are more likely to get their degrees than the general student body.

Take, for example, the VCU men’s basketball team, which made national headlines last spring by landing a spot in the 2011 Final Four tournament.

The men’s team has a 67 percent “graduation success rate,” according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. (That measurement takes into account transfer students. The team’s federal graduation rate, which ignores transfers, is 57 percent. That compares with a 50 percent federal graduation rate for all VCU students.)

The VCU women’s basketball team has a graduation success rate of 80 percent and a federal rate of 71 percent.

Even so, VCU ranks lower than other schools in the Colonial Athletic Association in their graduation success rates for student-athletes.

Of the 12 CAA schools, seven had a higher graduation success rate than VCU had for male basketball players.

And eight of the CAA schools had a higher graduation success rate than VCU had for female basketball players.

VCU compared favorably to other men’s basketball teams in the Final Four. The University of Connecticut, which won the national championship, had a graduation success rate for male basketball players of only 25 percent. Kentucky, another finalist, had a rate of 69 percent – about the same as VCU.

VCU lost its Final Four game against Butler University, and the outcome would have been the same if the schools had been competing on their basketball players’ graduation rates: The men’s basketball team at Butler had a graduation success rate of 80 percent.

— Colleen Hayes and Sarah DiPeppe

Here is the data used in this report:

Main story: Only Half of VCU Students Graduate