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Cal football improves graduation rate from 44 to 51 percent, men's basketball from 38 to 46 percent

Last in the Pac-12 still.

Brian Bahr

The California Golden Bears saw some quick academic turnaround in year two under Sonny Dykes, raising their APR to 969 from 923 and should be a year or two away from starting to clear out the academic turmoil that battered the program the last few seasons.

Unfortunately, graduation rates calculated by GSR are not likely to get much better these next few seasons, as they're sampled over a four year aggregate. And we still have at least a few more straggling Jeff Tedford teams to go through before we hit the Sonny Dykes era, as these numbers are calculated from students who entered Cal from 2004 to 2007 and completed their degrees within six years.

Cal football improved its record FBS low 44% FBS graduation rates to 51% this season, so there appears to be progress with how Sonny Dykes has handled the remaining Tedford recruits in the program regarding 2013 graduates. Cal basketball improved as well, going from 38% to 46%, as Mike Montgomery takes more and more of the burden away from Ben Braun.

Now obviously, we were not going to see huge changes in one year, so we have to hold steady. Graduation rate takes a bit of a while to turn around, so we're far from being out of the woods.

Hey, it's progress right?

With regards to the other major programs...

  • Congrats to Cal Men’s Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Women’s Tennis, Volleyball and Women’s Water Polo for finishing with 100% graduation rates!
  • Congrats to the 10 programs that went over 90% in their graduation rate (Women's crew, Women's swimming, men's swimming, men's golf, women's gymnastics), and the 13 programs that went over 85% (men's cross country and track, women's field hockey, men's tennis)!
  • Women's basketball posted a graduation rate of 73%, men's baseball 67%, men's soccer 67%, women's soccer 83%, women's softball 67%

Cal graduation rates 2004-07 Then you can compare them to Cal graduation rates 2003-06

Full release from Cal Athletics.

According to the latest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) data released by the NCAA Tuesday, the vast majority of the University of California, Berkeley’s intercollegiate athletics teams are performing well in the classroom, and steps taken in recent years to improve graduation rates among underperforming programs are showing positive results.

The GSR is based on a six-year cohort, meaning that the latest report includes only those student-athletes who received athletic scholarships and enrolled at Cal as freshmen or incoming transfers from 2004-07, and completed their degree within six years. Complete details of the GSR report are available here.

Overall, the Cal student-athletes represented in this 2004-07 cohort posted an 80 percent GSR, up two percent from last year’s GSR (which represented the 2003-06 cohort). Five teams – men’s gymnastics, lacrosse, women’s tennis, volleyball and women’s water polo – all had 100 percent graduation rates and 13 of 23 measured programs were over 85 percent, including 10 at or above 90 percent.

The football program saw its GSR rise seven points to 51 percent from the GSR data reported in the fall of 2013, while the men’s basketball program’s rate was up eight points to 46 percent.

“It is important to remember that we have 850 student-athletes in 30 sports at our University, and they should be recognized for their hard work and achievement in their studies,” said Director of Athletics Mike Williams. “The vast majority of our athletics programs continue to perform well academically and athletically, and we are focused on and quite proud of the turnaround we are seeing in both our football and men’s basketball programs. Our student-athletes have a great attitude and our coaching staffs are building a strong culture that emphasizes success in the classroom, in competition and in the greater community.”

Based on metrics over the past year, both the football and men’s basketball teams have demonstrated significant progress in their academics. Compared to the GSR, which relies on older data (freshmen entering school 7-10 years ago), the Academic Progress (APR) provides a more real-time representation of scholastic achievement. Football’s most recent APR score was 969 for the 2012-13 academic year, a 46-point year-over-year improvement. In addition, approximately 80 football players attended summer school in 2014 and achieved a 3.0 GPA – the squad’s highest in five years. For men’s basketball, the 11 players who were in school in the summer of 2014 posted a 3.46 GPA for the term.

“It takes a while to move a four-year average, such as the GSR, and we recognize that,” Williams continued. “There are areas where we are not pleased with our score, but our focus is on what we are doing moving forward. When low graduation rates were identified as a problem several years ago, we put programs in place to make improvements and provide the support our student-athletes need to succeed. We are optimistic and enthusiastic about the real progress we are seeing.”

In September, the Chancellor’s Task Force on Academics and Athletics issued its report and listed more than 50 recommendations intended to maximize academic performance for student-athletes and provide for a more enriching campus experience. Many of the proposals focused on improving academic support and better integrating student-athletes into the broader campus community.

“We are embracing Chancellor Dirks’ vision on implementing the recommendations and are in much better shape today due to the Task Force’s work,” Williams added. “Over the past several years, we have begun putting the right support systems in place to work with our student-athletes across the board, and we are already seeing incremental progress.”

The GSR was created by the NCAA to address some of the concerns about the methodology of the Federal Graduation Rate data, primarily to more accurately reflect mobility among student-athletes. The GSR includes students transferring into institutions and allows institutions to subtract student-athletes who leave their institutions prior to graduation as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete had they remained. For more information, see the NCAA's webpage on the GSR.