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NCAA grad rates rising; Loyola U. nearly perfect

By Daniel de Vise

Graduation rates for student athletes are rising, and at least one local university ranks among the top schools in the nation for college completion among Division I players.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association reported late last month that 79 percent of student-athletes in first-division schools graduated, based on an analysis of students who began college in 2003. The graduation rate has risen five points in the nine years that NCAA has tracked it.

NCAA graduation rates are as good a measure of college completion as the public is likely to see. Unlike federal completion rates, the NCAA tracks the vast numbers of students who transfer from one college to another. Their graduation rates trend about 15 points higher than those reported by the Education Department.

Loyola University Maryland tied with several other colleges for the third-highest graduation rate among all Division I schools, with an overall completion rate of 97 percent. The school reported 100 percent graduation in 12 of 14 sports tracked.

(Here is a searchable database for individual schools.)

Colgate University led all schools with a 100 percent overall graduation rate. Notre Dame ranked second, with 99 percent completion. Loyola tied for third with Holy Cross, Furman, Lafayette and Northwestern universities.

Searching local universities, I see that the United States Naval Academy is not far behind with a 96 percent overall graduation rate, although the rate has been even higher in past years. The College of William and Mary boasts a 95 percent graduation rate for athletes.

The NCAA said football athletes raised their graduation rate three points to 69 percent in this year's report. The rate for men's basketball is up 10 points over nine years to 66 percent. Rates for black students and black male students have both risen eight points since the data were first collected.

Male athletes are much less successful overall than female athletes, with respective graduation rates of 72 percent and 87 percent.

Here are NCAA graduation rates for a few other D.C. area schools:

American University: 94 percent
George Mason University: 77 percent
George Washington University: 91 percent
Georgetown University: 94 percent
Howard University: 68 percent
James Madison University: 84 percent
Johns Hopkins University: 89 percent
Towson University: 83 percent
University of Maryland, Baltimore County: 86 percent
University of Maryland: 80 percent
University of Virginia: 89 percent
Virginia Tech: 89 percent

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By Daniel de Vise  | November 4, 2010; 1:19 PM ET
Categories:  Athletics, Attainment, Rankings, Research  | Tags:  NCAA completion rates, NCAA grad rates, NCAA graduation rates, student athlete graduation rates  
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