DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois University has reached a new high-water mark in graduating its student-athletes, according to Thursday's release of the Graduation Success Rate report from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
At 83 percent, Northern Illinois' latest overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) - which includes student-athletes who entered NIU between 2002-2003 and 2005-06 - is the highest in school history. Northern Illinois ranks second in the Mid-American Conference in GSR, behind Miami (Ohio).
NIU's GSR topped the 80 percent mark for the fifth consecutive year and is three points higher than the four-class national average, which remained at 80 percent this year. The Huskies' 78 percent GSR for male student-athletes also ranked as the Huskies' top mark ever, and is four points above the national average. The Graduation Success Rate for NIU female student-athletes came in at 91 percent, three points higher than the national average.
"We are very pleased, but not satisfied, with this year's Graduation Success Rate report," said NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher. "We were able to break the school records for GSR for all student-athletes and for male student-athletes, with four perfect marks and 10 teams above the national average for their sports. This represents a lot of hard work by those student-athletes, first of all, and by the academic support staff and the coaching staffs, in conjunction with the campus academic advisers and faculty. It takes all of those groups working together to bring results like these."
The GSR has been used by the NCAA as an academic assessment tool for the last 11 years, and is seen as the most accurate measure of a school's ability to graduate student-athletes. Unlike the federal graduation rate, the GSR holds institutions accountable for transfer students and accounts for mid-year enrollees. Universities are not penalized for outgoing transfer students who leave in good academic standing, while incoming transfer students and midyear enrollees are included in the calculation.
By sport, 10 of Northern Illinois' 15 programs (women's indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country are combined) posted a Graduation Success Rate above or equal to the national average, including men's and women's basketball and football. In fact, football matched NIU's overall GSR at 83 percent and represented the highest percentage ever for the program, beating its previous best mark by 10 percent. NIU's 83 percent GSR for football is 15 points higher than the national average for that sport, ranks second in the MAC and places the Huskies 16th nationally among FBS schools.
Four Northern Illinois teams - women's basketball, women's golf, women's gymnastics and men's tennis - posted a perfect GSR of 100 percent for the 2002-05 cohort, meaning that every scholarship student-athlete, including freshmen and transfers, who came to NIU in those sports between 2002-05 earned her or his degree. Women's basketball joined football, men's tennis and women's golf as Northern Illinois teams whose GSR's bettered the national average in their sports by more than 10 points. Women's basketball ranked 16 points above the national average and led the Mid-American Conference.
"The beginning of our NIU Athletics mission statement is to develop champions in the classroom, and indicators like the Graduation Success Rate and the Academic Progress Rate are important signs of our success in fulfilling this mission," Compher said. "Our challenge remains to graduate every student-athlete who comes to NIU, and we work toward that goal on a daily basis."
The complete Graduation Success Rate report for all Division I schools, including a searchable historical database and the Federal Graduation Rate data, is available online at www.ncaa.org.