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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 01/ 7/2010

Sheepskin vs. Pigskin

By Valerie Strauss

Here’s another way of looking at schools with big-time football programs: How well the institution does in graduating its students--regardless of race or ethnicity.

That’s what the non-profit Education Trust did and found some mixed results among football powers.

Using an interactive Web site it designed called College Results Online, The Trust's “Graduation Championship Series” found the following:

The University of Cincinnati Bearcats went undefeated in the regular season, and took the field at the Allstate Sugar Bowl ranked third overall in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

But, according to College Results Online, only half of all students enrolled at Cincinnati graduate in six years, below the national average of 56 percent. Fewer than one-third--32 percent--of the school’s minority students earn a degree in six years.

Yet at Cincinnati’s peer institutions, the average college completion rate for minority students is 10 percentage points higher: 42 percent.

Now let’s look at Rose Bowl champion Ohio State University. The graduation-rate gap between Ohio State’s white students and its minority students is 20 percentage points.


Now, the University of Miami finished the season rated 15th in the BCS standings, but it does extremely well with graduating its minority students. They graduate at a slightly higher rate--78 percent--than the university’s white students--75 percent.

Oregon, Georgia Tech, and Florida State all have overall graduation rates above the national average, and their minority students graduate at rates close to or higher than the rates for white students.

And if graduation rates mattered on the football field, the University of Texas Longhorns would win tomorrow night’s national championship contest in Pasadena over the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide.

The graduation rate for minority students at Texas is 70 percent, 13 points higher than that of its opponent, Alabama—but still 8 percentage points lower than the university’s graduation rate among its white students.

Take a look at College Results Online for the schools that interest you.

For graduation rates from four-year colleges and universities across the U.S., visit

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By Valerie Strauss  | January 7, 2010; 10:00 PM ET
Tags:  graduation rates, higher education  
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