Daniel Gourvitch/The Hoya

Students coming to Georgetown to play sports may do well on the court or the field, but don’t always cross the finish line of graduation.

According to a report released by the NCAA, graduation rates dropped by 13 percent for Georgetown University’s student athletes, declining from 90 to 77 percent for student athletes entering in 1996 and graduating by August 2002.

Georgetown’s rates for athletes remain 17 percent below the rates for the university’s non-athletes but are still 15 percent higher than the NCAA national average of 62 percent.

The Patriot League, in which Georgetown plays football, has had higher graduation rates for the last five years than any other conference, with an average of about 84 percent.

The NCAA also counts graduation rates by averaging the four most recent graduating classes, called an exhausted eligibility rate. Under this method, Georgetown’s rate remained significantly stronger than the league average, at 87 percent. The NCAA measures how many athletes graduated by August 2002 against those that exhausted their athletic eligibility by failing to graduate, transferring, dropping out or going professional.

Senior Sports Communications Director Bill Shapland said that this measure showed that Georgetown athletes graduated just as well as the year before. While the single year percentages provide a snapshot of how many student athletes graduated in one year, which can be skewed by a high rate of transfers, for example, the exhausted eligibility rate smoothes out any anomalies from year to year.

“We’re talking about one year between 26 athletes and of those athletes, seven kids had transferred,” he said. “The four year cohort is the best standard. An 87 percent graduation rate is more revealing since it deals with a larger number of people.”

Graduation rates continue to rise across the board due to the implementation of legislation that requires grade point averages and standardized test scores be criteria for eligibility. The entering class of 1996 was the first class to be subject to the new standards, which seem to be yielding the results that NCAA analysts predicted.

Nationally, football and men’s basketball graduation rates, which have typically been below the national average, also rose. Football increased by one percentage point to 54 percent while men’s basketball also increased by one point, up to 44 percent.

Nationally, graduation rates for men and women did not move. Women retained the upper hand, averaging 69 percent to men’s 54 percent. Georgetown women fell by three points to 84 percent, while Georgetown’s male athletes’ graduation rates dropped from 94 percent to 71 percent.

The NCAA and USA Today established a scholarship fund for schools that have the highest graduation rates in their respective divisions. This year’s winning institutions included Notre Dame for Division I-A at 92 percent and Bucknell University for Division I-AA with 100 percent.

Shapland said that Georgetown’s recruiting process and athletic philosophy allow it to rise above most athletic programs. “It has to do with the student athletes we recruit,” he said. “We work with an educational mandate that [considers] athletics as another environment for learning. This dual emphasis on athletics and academics helps Georgetown excel.”

Universities are required to disclose graduation rates for sports where athletes can receive scholarships.

The NCAA considers only student-athletes who receive athletic aid from their college or university in the survey results. Calculated graduation rates are not adjusted in the event that an athlete dies, turns professional, transfers or drops the sport due to ineligibility.

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