By Sharon Nunn
Updated: 8 hours ago
The average athlete graduation success rate of the 11 Division I schools in the UNC system is 76 percent — below the national average.
UNC-CH, N.C. State University, UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Wilmington were at or above the 82 percent national student athlete graduation rate released by the NCAA in late October News/2013/October/Division I student-athletes make the grade, but other system schools fell below the benchmark.
The six-year national average graduation success rate for the entering class in 2006, the latest numbers, tied the previous all time high for Division I schools. UNC-C had the highest rate at 89 percent, while UNC-CH’s rate was 86 percent and UNC-W and NCSU met the average at 82 percent. But athletic directors at other system schools are trying to improve.
“We’re not doing as well, but I think the future bodes well,” ECU Athletic Director Jeff Compher said. ECU’s rate was 77 percent.
Compher said ECU’s athletic department emphasizes campus academic support services by ensuring the staff is up to speed on graduation requirements and that athletes are communicating with coaches.
N.C. Agricultural & Technical State University’s Athletic Director Earl Hilton is taking a different approach to improving his school’s rate. N.C. A&T’s rate was the lowest among the system schools’ rates, at 56 percent.
“We have increased our admission standards,” he said. “We are recruiting a different kind of student, and we fully expect to work ourselves into a place where we are graduating student athletes at a rate that is consistent with national norms.”
Hilton said student athletes have risen to the academic expectations of teachers, coaches and directors.
NCSU athletics receive $1.4 million annually in academic support.
“Our goal is to provide all the resources possible to enhance each student athlete’s opportunity to succeed academically,” NCSU Athletic Director Deborah Yow said. “Constant vigilance is required to elevate graduation rates.”
Some third-party groups like the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, which advocates for academic reform in college sports and makes recommendations to the NCAA, try to ensure that athletic programs focus on academics.
The commission researches to develop proposals, such as requiring half a team be on track to graduate in order to play in postseason competition.
Amy Perko, executive director of the commission, said the improvement in the national graduation rate show that reforms to college athletics are headed in the right direction.
“We have to remember that the core objective of college sports is to provide education to the participants on those teams,” Perko said.
Compher said academics should be a main focus for athletes.
“The greatest championship that (athletes) can earn is when they walk across the stage and get their diploma … and that’s what every coach and every student athlete needs to understand.”
GSR Rates for the UNC System
ECU – 77
NCAT – 56
NCCU – 57
NCSU – 82
UNCG – 78
UNCA – 72
UNC – 86
UNCC – 89
UNCW – 82
ASU – 80
WCU – 80
ECSU – 64
FSU – 58
WSSU – 64