For the second consecutive year, Northern Illinois University has posted a new high in graduation rates of its student-athletes, according to Thursday’s release of the Graduation Success Rate report from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
NIU’s latest overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 85 percent is tied with Miami (Ohio) for the best mark in the Mid-American Conference and is four percentage points higher than the national Division I average. NIU’s previous best was last year’s 83 percent mark and this year’s report marks the sixth consecutive year the Huskies’ GSR has topped 80 percent.
“I am very pleased to see our Graduation Success Rate rank among the best in the MAC and for several of our programs, among the best in the country,” said Sean T. Frazier, NIU associate vice president and director of Athletics.
“Graduation is the name of the game, and to see the proof in the numbers that NIU student-athletes are leaving with their degrees is a tribute to our student-athletes, our coaches and staff, and to the NIU faculty and the many people on campus who we rely on for support.
“The challenge once you have numbers as good as ours is to keep them going even higher,” he continued. “But that’s exactly what we intend to do.”
The GSR has been used by the NCAA as an academic assessment tool for the last 12 years, and is seen as the most accurate measure of a school’s ability to graduate student-athletes. This year’s rate measures student-athletes who enrolled in college between 2003-04 and 2006-07.
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.
NIU ranked ahead of the national Division I average for both male and female student-athletes with Huskie men posting a school-record GSR of 81 percent and the women’s mark of 92 percent leading the MAC.
In total, 10 of NIU’s 15 programs (women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country are reported as a single rate) posted a Graduation Success Rate above the national average for their sports, and 14 of NIU’s 15 programs bettered, or equaled, their GSR mark from last year.
The NIU football team’s GSR of 85 percent is tied for the 12th-best mark in the country among FBS schools, ranks second in the state among FBS and FCS teams and is third among ranked teams. NIU is ranked 18th in this week’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings. The Huskies led all Mid-American Conference programs in GSR by a large margin as Miami (Ohio) owns the second-highest rate in the MAC at 75 percent.
Four Huskie programs – women’s basketball, women’s golf, women’s gymnastics and men’s tennis – posted perfect 100 percent graduation success rates in this year’s report, meaning that every scholarship student-athlete, including freshmen and transfers, who came to NIU in those sports between 2003-06 earned his or her degree.
This is the sixth consecutive year the women’s gymnastics team has had a 100 percent GSR, while women’s golf has been at 100 percent for the last five reports and women’s basketball and men’s tennis have a streak of four straight years with perfect GSRs. Five NIU teams ranked first in the MAC in GSR in their sport while eight programs, including football and men’s and women’s basketball, were in the top three in the league in GSR.
For more information on Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.