Athletics News

Irish Athletes Again Dominate NCAA Graduation Ratings

April 29, 2011

The University of Notre Dame can claim the 2010 national championship for graduating its student-athletes.

Whether measured by the federal government in its Department of Education report or by the NCAA through its Graduation Success Rate (GSR) numbers, graduation rates for Notre Dame student-athletes rank either number one or among the handful of national leaders in all major categories among all major football-playing colleges and universities.

Notre Dame's institutional research found that Irish student-athletes rank number one in eight of 10 major categories - ranking second in one and fourth in the other. Those match the best results for Notre Dame in the six years the NCAA has published both the GSR and federal numbers. The eight number-one rankings equal the same number of top rankings that came a year ago in 2009 figures.

For the second year in a row Notre Dame leads the nation in all five GSR categories -- for all student-athletes (at 99), male student-athletes (98), female student-athletes (100), black student-athletes (98) and football student-athletes (96). Notre Dame also ranks number one in the federal numbers for all student-athletes (91), male student-athletes (87) and female student-athletes (97).

Both the federal graduation-rate figures and the GSR numbers for Notre Dame student-athletes rated the Irish in five major categories among the 120 football-playing institutions in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).

The federally mandated NCAA Graduation-Rates Report, the 20th such survey issued by the association, covers students who enrolled between 2000 and 2003 at all Division I institutions. The federal graduation rates are based on the raw percentage of student-athletes who entered an institution and graduated within six years. Students who leave or transfer, regardless of academic standing, are considered non-graduates. All those receiving athletics aid are included in the statistics. All military academies are exempt from the federal survey because they do not offer grants-in-aid to student-athletes. The GSR was created to more accurately reflect actual graduation rates by including transfer data in the calculation. College and university presidents asked the NCAA to develop a new methodology that takes into account the mobility among students in today's higher education environment. Research indicates that approximately 60 percent of all new bachelor's degree recipients are attending more than one undergraduate institution during their collegiate careers.

In calculations that include all student-athletes in all sports, Notre Dame ranks first among the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools in the GSR figures, which were initiated in 2005 by the NCAA. The University's 99 percent GSR for all its student-athletes ranks ahead of the 97 figures for Duke and Northwestern. Using the federal formula, Notre Dame graduated a four-year average of 91 percent of its student-athletes, tying with Stanford for the top spot.

Notre Dame graduated 97 percent of all women competing in varsity athletics (up three points from a year ago), to rank first among its peer institutions based on the federal calculations (ahead of Stanford at 95). Among men, Notre Dame's 87 percent federal rate also was first, tied with Stanford. Notre Dame graduated 86 percent of its black student-athletes, ranking second nationally (behind Rice) based on the federal rate, and Irish football players graduated at an 85 percent rate, to rank fourth.

In the GSR standings, the Irish scored a clean sweep in all five categories. In addition to its number-one ranking for all student-athletes, Notre Dame finished by itself in first among female student athletes at 100, first among male student-athletes at 98 percent (ahead of Northwestern and Duke at 96), first among football players at 96 percent, and first among black student-athletes at 98 percent (ahead of runner-up Northwestern at 96).

2010 NCAA Graduation Rates All data for student-athletes who enrolled between 2000 and 2003 (numbers are percentages)

All Student-Athletes

Federal Rate

1. (tie) Notre Dame, Stanford, 91

3. Northwestern, 88

4. Duke 87

5. Boston College, 85

6. Rice, 83

7. Penn State, 80

8. Wake Forest, 79

9. (tie) Miami (Ohio), Virginia, 77


1. Notre Dame, 99

2. (tie) Duke, Northwestern, 97

4. (tie) Boston College, U.S. Naval Academy, 96

6. Rice, 95

7. Stanford, 94

8. (tie) Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, 93

10. (tie) Penn State, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, 90

Male Student-Athletes

Federal Rate

1. (tie) Notre Dame, Stanford, 87

3. Northwestern, 86

4. Duke, 84

5. Boston College, 80

6. Rice, 77

7. (tie) Penn State, Vanderbilt, 74

9. Miami (Ohio), 73

10. (tie) Southern Mississippi, Wake Forest, 71


1. Notre Dame, 98

2. (tie) Duke, Northwestern, 96

4. U.S. Naval Academy, 95

5. Boston College, 94

6. Rice, 93

7. Vanderbilt, 92

8. Stanford, 91

9 (tie) U.S. Air Force Academy, Wake Forest, 90

Female Student-Athletes

Federal Rate

1. Notre Dame, 97

2. Stanford, 95

3. Wake Forest, 94

4. (tie) Northwestern, Rice, 92

6. Duke, 91

7. Tulane, 90

8. Boston College, 89

9. Penn State, 88

10. North Carolina, 87


1. Notre Dame, 100

2. (tie) Boston College, Duke, U.S. Naval Academy, Wake Forest, 99

6. (tie) Northwestern, Rice, 98

8. (tie) Clemson, Miami (Ohio), Pittsburgh, Stanford, 97

Black Student-Athletes

Federal Rate

1. Rice, 89

2. Notre Dame, 86

3. Northwestern, 83

4. Vanderbilt, 79

5. (tie) Duke, Penn State, Stanford, Wake Forest, 75

9. Boston College, 74

10. Rutgers, 71


1. Notre Dame, 98

2. Northwestern, 96

3. Rice, 94

4. Vanderbilt, 92

5. Duke, 91

6. Boston College, 88

7. (tie) Penn State, U.S. Naval Academy, 87

9. Wake Forest, 86

10. Rutgers, 85

Football Student-Athletes

Federal Rate

1. Boston College, 87

2. (tie) Duke, Northwestern, 86

4. Notre Dame, 85

5. Rice, 84

6. Stanford, 82

7. Penn State, 77

8. Southern Mississippi, 73

9. (tie) Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio), 72


1. Notre Dame, 96

2. (tie) Duke, Northwestern, 95

4. Rice, 93

5. U.S. Naval Academy, 92

6. Boston College, 90

7. Vanderbilt, 89

8. Rutgers, 88

9. (tie) Stanford, U.S. Air Force Academy, 86

Since the NCAA first published GSR numbers in 2005, here are the trends for Notre Dame in all 10 categories over the six years of graduation rates (includes ranking and raw graduation percentage; SA stands for student-athletes):

Category   2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
All SAs Fed. 1st at 90 2nd at 89 3rd at 89 2nd at 89 2nd at 90 1st at 91
  GSR 2nd at 98 2nd at 98 1st at 98 1st at 98 1st at 99 1st at 99
Male SAs Fed. 1st at 87 1st at 87 3rd at 85 2nd at 87 1st at 88 1st at 87
  GSR 2nd at 98 2nd at 97 2nd at 97 2nd at 97 1st at 98 1st at 98
Female SAs Fed. 1st at 96 2nd at 94 1st at 94 1st at 93 1st at 94 1st at 97
  GSR 5th at 99 2nd at 99 1st at 100 1st at 100 1st at 100 1st at 100
Black SAs Fed. 6th at 78 6th at 84 8th at 75 1st at 84 1st at 85 2nd at 86
  GSR 6th at 93 3rd at 95 4th at 91 2nd at 96 1st at 97 1st at 98
Football SAs Fed. 4th at 85 6th at 84 6th at 79 4th at 85 3rd at 85 4th at 85
  GSR 2nd at 96 3rd at 95 3rd at 93 2nd at 94 1st at 96 1st at 96

Over the six years worth of numbers of both the federal rates and the GSR, Notre Dame had 60 possible rankings in the six categories (among the FBS institutions) and 27 times ranked first, 16 times ranked second and six times ranked third.

The 2010 rankings mark:

-- The fourth straight year Notre Dame's GSR for all-student-athletes has ranked number one.

-- The fourth straight year Notre Dame has ranked number one in female student-athlete graduation in both the GSR and federal categories.

-- The second consecutive year that Notre Dame's GSR numbers for male student-athletes, black student-athletes and football players all have ranked first.

-- Improved graduation numbers for Notre Dame in four categories compared to 2009 numbers - from 90 to 91 in the federal rate for all student-athletes, from 94 to 97 in the federal rate for female student-athletes, from 85 to 86 in the federal rate for black student-athletes and from 97 to 98 in the GSR figure for black student-athletes.

Only five schools ranked in the top 10 in all 10 categories, and here are their average figures:

1. Notre Dame, 93.7

2. Northwestern, 91.7

3. Duke, 90.1

4. Rice, 89.8

5. Boston College, 88.2

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