BERKELEY – In the latest figures released by the NCAA Thursday, 14 of 23 measured Cal sports had a Graduation Success Rate of at least 85 percent, including nine above 90 percent. The Golden Bears had an overall GSR of 78 percent based on a four-year average for freshmen entering school between 2003-06.
Four women’s teams – lacrosse, tennis, volleyball and water polo – all had perfect 100 percent GSRs, while women’s crew was at 96 percent, women’s swimming & diving at 95 percent and women’s soccer at 93 percent. The top men’s programs were men’s cross country/track & field and golf, both at 92 percent.
“At Cal, we expect excellence in both academics and athletics,” Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. “Having an all-time high of nine teams above 90 percent is a testament to the dedication of our student-athletes, coaches and academic support staff. All of us are here to provide our student-athletes with what they need to reach their potential, whether that is in the classroom or in the field of play.”
Although most of the data showed impressive results for Cal intercollegiate athletic teams, several sports have not met the high standards. Notably, football’s GSR was 44 percent and men’s basketball was 38 percent.
“Although we still have a lot of work to do and have put systems in place that we believe will raise the success rate for under-performing teams, we are proud of what we have accomplished over the past year,” Barbour said. “Higher scores will take time to appear in the GSR data due to the lag time in reporting, and we are already seeing improved results. The rates we have seen with the majority of our programs shows what can be accomplished across the board. We have an obligation to deliver what our student-athletes need to excel, learn and grow in all facets of their experience at Cal, and we won’t be satisfied until we reach a 100 percent goal with all of our sports.”
Men’s basketball, for example, has seen five of its six seniors over the past three years earn their degrees, and the sixth is taking one class to complete his bachelor’s requirements this fall. Included in the group is Harper Kamp, who was named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2011-12 season. In addition, the program bolstered its academic support two years ago with a new director of student-athlete development specifically assigned to work with the team to ensure continued progress.
“A top priority for this program since this staff was formed has always and will always be for our student-athletes to complete their undergraduate degree,” men’s basketball coach Mike Montgomery said. “We stress this principle each day and have taken steps to ensure the continued support of each of our student-athletes both in the classroom and on the court.”
None of the data in the GSR report includes football student-athletes who played for new coach Sonny Dykes at Cal, and improving academics has been one of his priorities since arriving on campus nearly 11 months ago. From the time Dykes joined the Golden Bear staff, total of 24 football student-athletes earned their degrees from December 2012 through August 2013. The team also posted its highest term GPA in five years during the spring 2013 semester, and the average rose to the team’s highest in 10 years over the summer term. As a result, the squad’s NCAA Academic Progress Rate, which will reflect data for student-athletes for the 2012-13 academic year, is expected to show a significant improvement from past years when it is released in the spring.
“We are proud of the outstanding progress our football program has made academically in a short period of time,” Dykes said. “Our staff places a tremendous value on the education our players receive as student-athletes and we expect them to take advantage of the opportunity to graduate from the No. 1 public institution in the world. When a student-athlete comes to Cal, they expect a comprehensive experience on and off the field that will help them succeed here and also prepare them for life after football. We provide them with an opportunity to win everywhere and look forward to a time in the near future when we will release positive academic data that will speak to our improvement.”
The Graduation Success Rate or GSR is 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 2003-06, and completed their degree within six years. Complete details of the GSR report are available here.
The GSR 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.