The NCAA released its annual Graduation Success Rate report, illustrating data collected for athletes that enrolled in 2007. Division I men's lacrosse finished well in the study, graduating 90.9 percent of its participants in the 2007 cohort (this is a three percent increase from the 2006 cohort and the third highest rate for men's lacrosse since the NCAA started collecting this information for the 1995 cohort). This is a good thing: Diplomas are generally useful things, and not just to make otherwise barren walls look more exciting.
GSR was created in 1995 in response to Division I college and university presidents who wanted a rate that more accurately reflected the mobility of college students than the federal graduation rate.
The GSR formula, intended to be a more complete and accurate look at student-athlete success, removes from the rate student-athletes who leave school while academically eligible and includes student-athletes who transfer to a school after initial enrollment elsewhere. The federal graduation rate, however, remains the only metric that allows comparison between student-athletes and the general student body. Student-athletes who entered college in 2007 earned the highest federal graduation rate ever: 66 percent. That rate is one point higher than the general student-body at Division I schools.
Digging into the data a little bit, men's lacrosse stands on solid footing among its peers:
- Only two sports -- fencing and gymnastics -- had a higher graduation success rate than men's lacrosse in the four-class average for the 2004 through 2007 cohorts. For the four-class average for the 2003 through 2006 cohorts, only two sports -- fencing and gymnastics -- had a higher graduation success rate than men's lacrosse. For both cohorts, men's lacrosse exceeded the average graduation success rate for all of Division I (82 percent and 81 percent, respectively) and demolished the average graduation success rate among Division I men's sports (77 percent and 75 percent, respectively).
- Men's lacrosse has maintained its position as one of the most graduation-focused men's sports. Starting with the 1995 cohort, men's lacrosse has finished outside of the top three just five times -- 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006 (it's lowest finish was fifth in 2002, 2005, and 2006). Men's lacrosse finished with the strongest graduation success rate in 2000 and its average from the 1995 cohort through the 2007 cohort is 88.4 percent (the standard deviation in the examined periods is 2.74). Men's lacrosse is not only hitting its marks but also taking a prominent position among the NCAA's leaders in graduation rate.
At a more granular level looking specifically at men's lacrosse programs, some important details start to focus (this considers only the 2007 cohort):
- 13 schools -- Bucknell, Colgate, Dartmouth, Harvard, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Loyola, Manhattan, Princeton, St. Joseph's, Villanova, Wagner, and Yale -- earned perfect 100 scores. Nerds!
- Hobart and Johns Hopkins are part of this, but kind of separate from the rest of Division I (due to where their other athletic programs are housed). No graduation success rate data for either of their lacrosse teams are available.
- 29 programs finished above the 90.9 average in the latest cohort. 38 schools finished above the overall graduation success rate average of 84 percent. Six programs -- Bellarmine, Detroit, Mount St. Mary's, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, and Stony Brook -- finished with a graduation success rate of less than 70. (Interestingly, the graduation success rates for the lacrosse programs at Bellarmine, Detroit, and Mount St. Mary's marked the lowest scores among those school's athletic programs.)