The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday September 20th

On The Wire

NCAA rankings of schools' graduation rates

A recent report by the NCAA ranking schools’ graduation rates for student athletes found varying success for universities in the state.

N.C. State University ranked last in the Atlantic Coast Conference in terms of graduating student athletes with a rate of 74 percent for students who enrolled in 2004.

“Nobody’s happy about the report,” said Annabelle Myers, assistant athletic director for media relations at NCSU.

Myers said the department still believes there are adequate programs in place to help student-athletes graduate on time.

“Our academic support staff and services are doing their best to identify people who are at risk,” she said.

But other schools in the state fared better in the report — including UNC-CH and Duke University.

UNC-CH’s graduation rate for athletes was 88 percent, higher than the national graduation success rate of 82 percent and a rate of 87 percent for students who enrolled in 2003.

John Blanchard, senior associate athletic director for the University, said the athletic department was pleased with the 88 percent success rate.

Blanchard said the department has used fewer undergraduate students as tutors, relying more on graduate students and retired faculty to improve graduation rates.

There is still room for improvement within the department despite recent successes with graduation rates, he said.

Improvements will include increasing the size of academic support staff, including faculty and graduate student tutors, he said. In addition, the department will assess and tweak its academic support programs.

“We want 100 percent and that’s what we try for, though we know that’s not feasible,” he said. “The number itself is not an end.”

Duke tied Boston College for the highest student-athlete graduation rate in the ACC at 97 percent.

Brad Berndt, associate director of athletics and academic services at Duke University, said the university, coaches and student athletes all contributed to the high graduation rate.

Berndt said Duke maintained the same level as last year but more of its teams achieved a perfect 100 percent graduation rate this year.

“We had all 22 programs have a (graduation success rate) of 93 percent or better,” he said.

Berndt said Duke’s policy of recruiting and admitting prepared student athletes has contributed to their academic success.

“No matter what type of support services you have in place, if you are admitting students who are grossly under-prepared to do the work, it’s going to be difficult for those students to be successful,” he said.

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