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College athletes are graduating at record rates, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's metric known as the Graduation Success Rate. Eighty-six percent of Division I athletes who entered college in 2008 graduated within six years, according to new data released Wednesday by the NCAA. That's two percentage points higher than last year.
Men's basketball players earned a 77 percent GSR, up three points from last year, and women's basketball players earned a GSR of 89 percent, up two points. Football Bowl Subdivision football players graduated at a 75 percent rate, and 76 percent of Football Championship Subdivision players graduated within six years. The rate for white athletes increased one point this year to 90 percent, and African-American athletes graduated at a rate of 73 percent, up three points from last year.
The record rates come after a year of high-profile academic scandals involving big-time college athletics, including cases of academic fraud that may stem from the increasing pressure on colleges to improve the academic performance and graduation rates of their athletes. While NCAA critics question the accuracy of the association's academic measurements, Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, said in a statement that there's no question that athletes are graduating at higher rates than ever.
“Student athletes continue to make important gains in the classroom, and the NCAA and its member schools are thrilled with their success,” Emmert stated. “We also are proud of the role academic reforms have played in helping students earn their degrees. We will continue to support rules and policies that encourage students to progress toward graduation.”