INDIANAPOLIS — Last year’s national runner-ups in football and men’s basketball came out the big winners in the classroom.
Of the 10 teams that reached the BCS football championship game and the men’s and women’s Final Four, only one finished with a graduation rate lower than 70 percent in the NCAA’s latest report, with Notre Dame producing better academic marks than national champion Alabama and Michigan coming in slightly ahead of national champion Louisville.
Those marks are based on four years of data collected from freshman athletes who entered school between 2003-04 and 2006-07 and earned their degrees in six years.
“More student-athletes than ever before are earning their college degrees, and we are gratified to see our reform efforts impact the lives of those we serve,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “We have even higher expectations for the future, but we are proud of the progress we have made.”
In a year that Emmert and the NCAA have been under intense scrutiny, the annual report gave Emmert plenty to tout.
Eighty-two percent of athletes in the 2006-07 freshman class earned their diploma, matching a one-year record. Graduation rates over the four-year span, hit 81 percent, also a one percentage point increase and another record.
The one-year measuring stick among black female athletes improved from 76 percent in 2005-06 to 78 percent in 2006-07.
And players in the Football Bowl Subdivision topped last year’s record-high of 70 percent by hitting 71 percent thanks to a 4-percentage point jump, to 84 percent, among white FBS players and 2-percentage point jump, to 64 percent, among black FBS players.
Alabama, which has won the last two BCS titles and is ranked No. 1 this season, finished at 73 percent, ahead of football’s four-year average (70 percent). Notre Dame, which lost in January’s BCS title game, had a grad rate of 94 percent.