Cal Athletics Statement on 2012 Graduation Success Rate Data

October 25, 2012

Today's release of the NCAA's annual report on what is known as the "Graduation Success Rate" shows that overall UC Berkeley student-athletes are earning their degrees at a rate that is near historic highs for the Cal athletics program. At the same time, however, the data also indicate that a few individual teams need to improve their academic performance.

"At Cal, we have set high academic standards for our student-athletes," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said, "and the overall figures are a result of their commitment to the classroom as well as the efforts of our coaches, faculty members and staff at our Athletic Study Center. However, this level of achievement and diligence must extend through all of our programs. We have already taken steps to support teams and individuals who need additional support. We will not be satisfied until each and every team measures up to the level of excellence expected at Cal."

The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) data are based on a six-year cohort, meaning that the latest report includes only those student-athletes who received athletic scholarships and enrolled at Cal as freshmen or incoming transfers from 2002-05, and completed their degree within six years.

The current GSR for all Cal student-athletes in this cohort is 80 percent, seven points higher than in 2005 - the first year results were tabulated - and only one point below Cal Athletics all-time high of 81 percent that was achieved two years ago. Three teams achieved a perfect 100 percent GSR - women's golf, women's volleyball and women's water polo - while 16 of 23 evaluated sports were at 85 percent or higher. Complete details of the GSR report are available here:

Men's basketball, which had experienced low graduation rates for several years, showed a significant rise in its GSR score, from 33 to 50 percent, due in part to an Academic Improvement Plan that was drafted specifically for the team back in 2004-05. Both of the team's student-athletes who entered Cal in the fall of 2005 earned their degrees and continued improvement is expected in the future.

At the same time, the report shows that the GSR for Cal football fell to 48 percent, down from 54 percent the previous year due, in large part, to the fact that only seven of 19 incoming freshmen in 2005 graduated within six years. Three additional members of that class have since received their degrees, but are not included in the success rate since their academic work was completed beyond the six-year time limit. Five student-athletes from that same class elected to enter the NFL draft before completing their degree requirements.

"This score is clearly unacceptable," head coach Jeff Tedford said. "While there is little a college coach can do to prevent players from entering the draft for professional leagues, we have an obligation and responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure our student-athletes succeed academically. We have many student-athletes who want to pursue NFL dreams, but it is essential that we emphasize the importance of them graduating in a timely fashion. I have made it absolutely clear to our coaches, players and staff that we must reverse this trend. In recent months, we have taken concerted action to improve the support provided through our Academic Game Plan and will continue to make sure this is a top priority in our program. We all share the responsibility to meet Cal's academic standards."

Additional steps recently taken to support the football program include the establishment of an Academic Performance Working Group comprised of senior administrators, Faculty Athletic Representative Bob Jacobsen, members of the academic support staff and the team's entire coaching staff. In addition, the football program now has a dedicated staff person whose responsibility is to help student-athletes remain in school, or return to campus to complete their degrees once their professional careers have ended.

"The implementation of these measures has already shown results, with 13 of the 18 seniors on our current roster expected to graduate this fall," Tedford said.

Similar efforts are also underway for other teams where academic improvement is needed and expected.

The Graduation Success Rate was created by the NCAA to address some of the concerns about the methodology of the Federal Graduation Rate data, primarily to more accurately reflect mobility among student-athletes. The GSR includes students transferring into institutions and allows institutions to subtract student-athletes who leave their institutions prior to graduation as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete had they remained. For more information, see the NCAA's webpage on the GSR.