NCAA releases class of 1997 graduation rates
AUSTIN, Texas -- The NCAA has released its graduation rates report for the class of men and women student-athletes who enrolled in the fall of 1997. Figures reflect the student-athletes who graduated by 2003 -- with transfers out and transfers in counting against the institutional rates.
The University of Texas Men's and Women's Athletics Departments fare well in the overall numbers, with a combined graduation rate of 52 percent.
UT also has a solid "exhausted graduation rate," which since 1988 is 87 percent. That rate is defined as all men and women student-athletes who have completed their eligibility in athletics and have graduated.
"We certainly place a great deal of importance in the academic performance of our student-athletes," said Texas Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds. "Our goal is to provide the best educational opportunity possible and we commit nearly $2 million dollars a year to provide them the best academic services, support, facilities and tutors available to aide them in their effort to earn a degree."
In reviewing these rates, it is important to consider a number of factors, particularly in the computation of football graduation rates, according to UT Athletics officials.
"The graduation rates for the 1997 enrollees are for the freshman class for former head coach John Mackovic's last season," said Texas Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds. "In that group of 22 enrollees, eight young men either gave up football or withdrew from school, or, they transferred to another institution. Either way, they are computed as 'zeroes' in our rate, regardless of their academic standing at the time."
Dodds added that of the 14 remaining student-athletes from the 1997 freshman class of football players, six (42.9%) completed both their eligibility and graduated. Four others are within 15 hours of graduating, but will earn their degree outside the six-year NCAA graduation rate window from their first semester of enrollment.
"When there are coaching changes, there are student-athletes who elect to transfer," Dodds said. "Under the current formula used to compute the NCAA graduation rates, transfers in or out affect the bottom line numbers."
Mack Brown was hired at Texas in December of 1997. "We have a strong commitment to the education of our football players. It's important that we prepare them for life after football, and a UT degree is certainly a key factor in that. In some cases that may occur on a different time table and the (NCAA) graduation rates don't always reflect that. For guys who may not finish and are pursuing a career in the NFL, we stick with them. When they are able to come back to school, we're there for them. If a player is forced to give up football or gets off track at some point, we stay on him to continue his work in the classroom. We've had a high success rate with players who have come back to school to earn their degrees.
Nine of the 18 members of Mack Brown's 1998 freshman recruiting class have completed their degree requiremetns. Three student-athletes from that group of enrollees elected to transfer.