CMU student-athlete graduation rates higher than national average

When it comes to graduating athletes, Central Michigan University is doing better than the national average.

CMU graduated 88 percent of scholarship athletes who attended the school between 1993-94 and 2002-03, higher than the 79 percent national average, according to the graduation success rate report released Nov. 18 by the NCAA.

“I’m very pleased with the overall performance of our student athletes,” said Athletic Director Dave Heeke. “While it precedes me, it doesn’t surprise me because it’s always been an emphasis point for us.”

In addition, 62 percent of athletes graduated during the 2002-03 academic year, more than CMU’s overall 57 percent graduation success rate.

CMU’s Graduation Rates • Overall: 88 percent, 1993-2003 • Field Hockey: 100 percent • Wrestling 95 percent • Soccer: 94 percent • Women’s Cross Country: 94 percent • Women’s Track and Field: 94 percent • Softball: 87 percent • Men’s Basketball: 86 percent • Women’s Basketball: 84 percent • Volleyball: 80 percent • Gymnastics: 78 percent • Baseball: 71 percent • Football: 71 percent • Men’s Track and Field: 67 percent • Men’s Cross Country: 67 percent

The numbers

According to the latest data compiled for the 1999-2002 cohorts, 11 of the 12 NCAA athletic programs at CMU had a higher GSR than the federal average.

The field hockey team had the highest success rate of all athletic programs, graduating 100 percent of its scholarship athletes and matching its success from the 1998-2001 numbers.

The wrestling team graduated its athletes with a success rate of 95 percent, nine points higher than the 1998-2001 cohorts and 21-point jump in its number from the 1995-98 cohorts. Women’s soccer, which has won several academic awards in the past few years for high team grade point averages, graduated 94 percent of its athletes, a stark contrast from the 55 percent national average.

Heeke said while graduation success and team grade point averages are good indicators of one or another, they do not always correlate.

“It goes back to overall success,” said Jason Holtman, associate athletic director of student-athlete development and sports administration. “Good GPA does not equal graduation and graduation doesn’t mean that you have a good GPA.”

The men’s basketball team graduated 86 percent of its players between 1999 and 2002, 59 percent higher than the federal GSR.

However, Heeke said there is some concern with the team’s future rate after transfers following last season and the dismissal of Jacolby Hardiman from the team over the summer.

From 1999 to 2002, the football team graduated 71 percent of its scholarship athletes, compared to the 66 percent national average.

Holtman attributes the above-average numbers to the CMU’s quality of recruiting.

“It’s the type of students that our coaches are bringing in to our institution,” he said. “The level of academics of our students coming in is very strong.”

Men’s cross country and track and field graduated 67 percent of its scholarship athletes, on par with the national figure, while the women’s basketball team fell below the 88 percent average at 84 percent.

“In relation to general student body, we always hope we’re graduating at a higher level because we expect a higher level of our student athletes,” Heeke said. “We expect a higher level of performance.”