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Athletes’ Graduation Rates Continue to Rise, NCAA Says

Major-college athletes are graduating in record numbers, the National Collegiate Athletic Association said on Thursday, noting steady improvements among African-American students.

Sixty-eight percent of African-American men’s basketball players in Division I and 71 percent of all football players in the Football Bowl Subdivision who started college in 2006 earned their degrees within six years. Both of those figures represent historic highs.

Over all, 82 percent of Division I athletes who entered college in 2006 graduated within six years, equaling a previous record, according to NCAA data.

The NCAA uses its own formula to calculate what it calls the graduation-success rate of athletes. Unlike the graduation rates calculated by the U.S. Department of Education, the NCAA’s figures do not penalize institutions when athletes transfer to other colleges, as long as they depart in good academic standing.

Under the federal formula, Division I athletes are graduating at slightly higher rates than traditional students: 65 percent of athletes who entered college in 2006 completed their degrees within six years. That was one percentage point higher than the overall student body at Division I institutions.

Since the NCAA began tracking graduation-success rates 12 years ago, athletes’ overall rates have increased by eight percentage points. The rate for African-American athletes has gained 11 percentage points.

For a team-by-team breakdown of graduation rates, check out the NCAA’s searchable database.

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