Athletics Graduation Success Rate reaches new highs

Megan Melendez
Megan Melendez

For the third consecutive year, Northern Illinois University has registered a new high in graduation rates of its student-athletes, as the National Collegiate Athletic Association released its annual Graduation Success Rate report Tuesday.

NIU posted an 89 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR) in the latest report, which ranks as the best in the Mid-American Conference and is seven percentage points better than the national Division I average. This year’s report also marks the seventh-straight year that the Huskies’ GSR topped 80 percent, and tops last year’s mark of 85 percent.

“These graduation success numbers are another great indication of our department moving forward,” said Sean T. Frazier, NIU associate vice president and director of Athletics. “They are the result of a tremendous amount of hard work by the student-athletes, our Student-Athlete Academic Support Services unit, our coaches and faculty and staff throughout campus. The academic success of our student-athletes is paramount to the overall mission of NIU Athletics. Our entire university, our fans and our community can take pride in this report.”

The GSR has been used by the NCAA as an academic assessment tool for the last 13 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 2004-05 and 2007-08.

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 also surpassed the national Division I average for men and women. The Huskie men recorded an 87 percent GSR and the women tallied a 95 GSR, putting them 10 and six points, respectively, above the national average.

Overall, 11 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. In addition, 13 of NIU’s 15 programs bettered or equaled their GSR mark from last year. Men’s golf had the greatest increase by moving up 20 points, while volleyball led all women’s sports with a 15-point jump.

Jared Torrence
Jared Torrence

The NIU football team‘s GSR of 91 percent is the eighth-best mark in the country among FBS schools and is second in the state of Illinois. The Huskies led all MAC teams in GSR by a large margin, as Miami (Ohio) owns the second-highest rate in the conference at 77 percent.

The NIU men’s and women’s basketball teams both made significant gains in the latest report.

On the men’s side, the Huskies recorded the highest GSR in program history at 83 percent – up six percentage points from last year and 11 points higher than the national average. The team is third in the MAC and fourth in the state in GSR, ahead of both Northwestern and Illinois.

Meanwhile, the women’s team recorded a 92 percent GSR to sit fifth in the MAC, just one percentage point out of second place. The team also ranked above the national average by seven percent.

Six Huskie programs – women’s golf, women’s gymnastics, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s golf 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 2004 and 2007 earned his or her degree.

This is the seventh 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 six reports and men’s tennis has a streak of five straight years with a perfect GSR. Seven NIU teams ranked first in the MAC in GSR, while 10 programs ranked in the top three in their respective sports.

“I’m excited by this report and the opportunity it provides us to keep building on this success in the classroom,” said NIU senior associate athletic director Melissa Dawson. “There is no doubt this university and this department is committed to seeing our student-athletes succeed academically. Congratulations to everyone who contributed to these numbers and to all of our student-athlete graduates; let’s keep it going in the future.”

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

For more information on NIU athletics, visit

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