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NCAA graduation rates improve as critics cry foul

Michael Marot Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – NCAA president Mark Emmert keeps touting the record-breaking graduation rates of Division I athletes. Critics keep balking at the interpretation of those numbers, citing recent academic scandals.

The NCAA’s newest graduation report, released Tuesday, showed 84 percent of athletes who entered college in 2007-08 earned a degree within six years, a 2 percent increase over last year’s high mark. The four-year average of 82 percent is another record, up 1 percentfrom 2013. Emmert also said there were increases in almost all demographics in the one-year measurement.

“It’s the highest ever by a good measure and it’s up virtually across the board – football, basketball, all other sports, men, women, all races included,” Emmert said. “So it’s the best academic performance we’ve ever seen.” Federal numbers show a similar trend.

Over the four-year period covering freshmen classes from 2004-07, athletes graduated at a rate of 65 percent, 1 point higher than the general student body. The 2006-07 freshmen class also set a record, 66 percent, compared with 65 percent of non-athletes.

The difference in rates is that the NCAA counts athletes who transfer and graduate from another school. The feds do not.

Overall, athletes have increased their graduation rate by 10 percentage points since the tracking began in 1995-96.

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