Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Sees Academic Success Rate Increased to 78%

February 3, 2012

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference has raised its Academic Success Rate to 78 percent according to the recently released data from the NCAA. That figure, up two percent from a year ago, showcases the PSAC as one of Division II’s 10 conferences at or above the national average of 72 percent.

The ASR information used in the conference listings is based on a four-year study, the most recent of which measures degree completion among the freshmen classes entering college from 2001-04. This marks the third straight year the PSAC has increased its ASR percentage. The 1999-2002 entering cohort produced a rate of 75 percent and the 2000-03 cohort tabulated to 76 percent.

“There are many accomplishments to be proud of when talking about our conference,” said PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray. “The high rate of earning a degree and the element of steady progress in that area is certainly at the top of that list.”

Out of Division II’s 22 conferences the PSAC ranks sixth overall, just one percent below Conference Carolinas and The Great Lakes Valley Conference. The Sunshine State Conference heads the list at 86 percent, followed by the Northeast 10 at 85 percent and the East Coast Conference at 81 percent.
The 78 percent figure, however, is a lot more impressive when considering the PSAC generates the highest enrollment with 6,884 student-athletes factored in the 2001-04 data. Of schools ranked above the PSAC, only the Northeast 10 (5,429) generates an enrollment over 4,000 student-athletes. Ten of the 22 conferences feature enrollment of 3,700 or more.

In the listed sport categories every PSAC subgroup was at or above the national ASR average. Men's and women's cross country/track & field especially stood out in national comparison. At 81 percent the men were nine points higher than the national average and the women were five points above the national average at 89 percent. Both groups ranked second among conferences that sponsor both cross country and track & field. Football was fourth in ASR among the 14 conferences which sponsor the sport, coming in at 61 percent, which is seven points above the Division II average. Men's basketball was a plus-7 at 67 percent, women's basketball was a plus-5 at 84 percent and baseball equaled the national standard at 70 percent.

The PSAC is also performing at an above average rate in comparison to the national standards for each gender. The NCAA revealed Division II females had an 85 percent ASR while the males were at 66 percent. The PSAC registered at 88 and 69 percent, respectively.

From data released in the fall of 2011, California tops the list of PSAC institutions with an 89 percent ASR. In all, seven league schools have an ASR of 80 or above. California is followed by Millersville (87), West Chester (82), East Stroudsburg (80), Gannon (80), Mansfield (80) and Slippery Rock (80).
This is the sixth year the NCAA has released graduation data at the Division II level in the form of an Academic Success Rate. The ASR was developed by the NCAA at the request of college and university presidents who believed the Federal Graduation Rate was flawed. Division II’s ASR data is similar to the Division I Graduation Success Rate as it takes transfer students in account. However, given the partial-scholarship financial aid model of Division II, ASR also includes student-athletes not on athletically related financial aid. The result is that ASR captures more than 36,000 non-scholarship student-athletes.

The Federal Graduation Rate focuses only on those who receive athletically related financial aid in their freshman year, and the PSAC performed at a high level under that standard, as well. Of the 3,313 student-athletes meeting the federal criteria during the same four-year span, 2,132 earned their degrees, producing a 64 percent graduation rate. Perhaps the most compelling figure to validate the structure provided to student-athletes in the PSAC, the 64 percent rate is nine percent higher (55%) than the graduation rate for Division II student-athletes and 16 percent higher than the general student body (48%) at Division II institutions.

The 64 percent figure is second best among Division II conferences, trailing only the Northeast 10 at 70 percent. Similar to the ASR figures, the PSAC has the greatest enrollment under federal standards. Only the PSAC has over 3,000 student-athletes in the most recent study. Nine additional conferences have over 2,000.

Additional information from the NCAA regarding Academic Success Rate

• In the sixth year for the Division II Academic Success Rate (ASR), the data demonstrate that student-athletes continue to graduate at a high rate.

• Division II’s ASR data is similar to the Division I Graduation Success Rate as it takes transfer students into account and removes students who left the institution in good academic standing. However, given the partial-scholarship financial aid model of Division II, ASR goes one step further and includes student-athletes not receiving athletics scholarships.

• Because of this, ASR captures about two-thirds more student-athletes than the federal rate, largely due to more than 36,000 non-scholarship student-athletes being included in the NCAA calculation.

• The national four-year ASR average increased one percentage point to 72 percent overall, while the entering class of 2004 remained steady at 73 percent.

• Division II female student-athletes for the entering class of 2004 had an 85 percent ASR, an increase of one point over 2003. The ASR for male student-athletes was 66 percent, remaining the same from last year’s results.

• Half of Division II men’s sports (8 of 16) saw four-year ASR increases, including: baseball, basketball, soccer and wrestling. Additionally, four men’s sports remained steady from last year, including football.

• Nine of 17 women’s sports saw four-year ASR increases as well, including: basketball, golf, soccer, softball and volleyball. Five women’s sports also remained steady from last year.

• African-American female student-athletes showed significant increases in the single-year ASR. The 2004 group ASR was 73 percent, a six-point increase from 2003.

• African-American female student-athletes in volleyball, track and field, and basketball all increased their single-year ASR by five points or more.

• As in Division I, when you look at the federal graduation rate and ASR data for Division II, it clearly dispels the myth that student-athletes do not perform well academically.

• In fact, Division II student-athletes perform far better than the general student body, even when considering the less-inclusive federal rate. The federal rate for the 2004 entering class of student-athletes dropped one point to 55 percent, while the general student body increased to 48 percent, but this still is a difference of seven points.