NCAA study: D-III athletes graduate
The first set of data from a two-year pilot program designed to study graduation rates in Division III has produced unstartling results: Division III student-athletes graduate at rates on par with or higher than the student body in general.
The study, which is currently made up only of schools which voluntarily provided data, nonetheless covered 115 Division III institutions, which corresponded well with the Division III membership of more than 440 total schools, according to a report from the NCAA News.
The representative sample showed that 66 percent of student-athletes at Division III schools who enrolled as freshmen in the fall of 2003 graduated within the six-year time frame used for comparable studies at the Division I and Division II level. At the 435 schools which are active members of Division III, 65 percent of the general student body graduates within the time rame.
Because Division III student-athletes do not receive financial aid based on their athletic ability, graduation rates have not been tracked in the past.
“The purpose of the pilot was twofold,” Widener University president Jim Harris, who is the chair of the Division III Presidents Council through the 2011 NCAA Convention, told the NCAA News. “One was to determine the level of burden on institutions to provide these data in the first place, and two was to determine whether the findings would be relevant and useful in helping schools track the academic success of their student-athletes.
“It appears from this first report that the reactions to those premises are ‘The burden isn’t as much as we thought’ and ‘Yes, the data are quite useful.’ ”
The report also calculated an Academic Success Rate (ASR), to provide a comparable number to the Division I and Division II GSR, the Graduation Success Rate. It accounts for students who transfer out of schools but were academically eligible to compete at the time they left. This number was 89 percent, compared to the 79 GSR for Division I and 75 for Division II.
“We wanted to determine whether the collection was viable. We needed to assess the level of burden and the relevance and utility of the data,” Division III vice president Dan Dutcher told the NCAA News. “What we found is that while this type of reporting does indeed require a time commitment at the institutional level, the value of the data appears to outweigh the burden required to gather them. Year two of the pilot will help make that determination.”