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Cal graduation rates rise to 52% in football, 55% in basketball

Incremental improvements.

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The California Golden Bears saw an improvement in their graduation rates in both of their major sports.

Football rose from 51% from the 2004-07 cohort to 54% in the latest 2005-2008 cohort. Basketball also made another solid jump from 46% from last year's GSR to 55% this season.

These stats are for freshmen from 2005 to 2008, so this will almost exclusively cover recruits from the Jeff Tedford era who graduated by the end of 2013 (Sonny Dykes's first year at Cal). It's unlikely we'll get a real barometer on the impact Dykes has made academically via graduation rates for at least another few years.

Expect the next APR scores (which have more recent updates to come out next spring) to provide a clearer indication of real-time progress.

The basketball graduation rate mostly consists of Ben Braun's recruits, although a good portion of them graduated or didn't graduated under Mike Montgomery's watch. Expect this number to also keep on moving in the right direction as we move toward Monty's classes in future GSR updates.

Cal remains last in the Pac-12 in football and moves up to 9th in basketball in GSR. If you want a good reason why Cal has struggled to make huge strides in football recruiting the last few years, this number has been used a lot in negative recruiting by our rivals.

Full graduation rates are below (or you can click here for the PDF). Below that is the official press release.

Graduation rates

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 2005-08, and completed their degree within six years. Complete details of the GSR report are available here.

Overall, the Cal student-athletes represented in this 2005-08 cohort posted a 79 percent GSR. Eleven of 23 measured teams generated a GSR of at least 90 percent, with four teams - men's golf, men's gymnastics, women's tennis and women's volleyball - at a perfect 100 percent.

"All of us associated with Cal Athletics hold academic achievement in the highest regard, and we expect nothing less at the world's No. 1 public university," Director of Athletics Mike Williams said. "It is important that we recognize the hard work and dedication of our student-athletes, coaches and staff in this important area. While we are certainly pleased with the results for the vast majority of our teams and 850 student-athletes, we are encouraged to see that steps we have taken in recent years to improve graduation rates overall are taking hold and we are seeing a clear upturn where it is needed most."

The football program saw its GSR rise to 52 percent, up eight percent over the past two years, and the men's basketball program's rate was at 55 percent, up 17 points since the fall 2013 report.

Under the leadership of football coach Sonny Dykes, who joined the Cal football program in December 2012, and men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, who is in his second season in Berkeley, both teams have made significant strides in their academic performance.

Using the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR), which provides more of a real-time assessment compared to the GSR, the football team's score jumped 46 points between 2011-12 and 2012-13 and another considerable increase is anticipated when new data is announced in the spring of 2016. A dozen football student-athletes are on track to graduate this December, while a number of former student-athletes have returned to school to earn their degrees.

Martin's men's basketball team registered the biggest GPA improvement among Cal's 30 sports for the 2014-15 academic year, and both scholarship seniors completed their degree requirements in May.

"Moving a four-year average takes time," said Williams, noting that none of the student-athletes factored into the current GSR cohort played under either Dykes or Martin. "It is important to remember the GSR report released today from the NCAA reflects the scores from the 2005-2008 cohort of student-athletes. Because we are looking at lagging indicators with the graduation rates, the positive results we are seeing now in the APR will be reflected in our GSR in four to five years."