University boasts fourth highest student-athlete graduation rate in Division I

By Lauren Buckley

Contributing Writer

The University’s student-athlete graduation rate is one of the highest in the nation for Division I athletics, said the NCAA’s graduation rate survey released last week. Student-athletes entering the University between 2001-02 and 2004-05 had a four-class graduation rate average of 90 percent, ranking fourth in the nation.

This graduation average is continuously improving; the University ranked seventh in the nation with an 87 percent student-athlete graduation rate in 2010. The University now only falls behind Holy Cross, Davidson and Notre Dame in four-class graduation rate averages. In addition, the four-class graduation rate of 90 percent for student-athletes was equal to that of the entire University.

Graduation Success Rate (GSR) was also included in the NCAA report, which factors in transfer students who graduate and does not count the loss of transfers who leave in good academic standing. Eighteen of the University’s varsity programs achieved a perfect 100 percent GSR between 2001-02 and 2004-05. All 22 varsity athletic teams reported a GSR of 88 percent or higher.

The secret to the University’s high student-athlete graduation rate can be attributed to the emphasis placed on athletes by their coaches to balance both school and sports.

“Our coach always makes sure we are all balancing academics and tennis and is there to help us with anything. Balancing school and sports is not easy, but the time pressure always helps me to get my work done more efficiently,” women’s tennis player Lauren Boone ’15 said.

Women’s tennis has a 100 percent GSR along with men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s rowing, baseball, men’s tennis, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s water polo, women’s track and field and field hockey. Additionally, women’s basketball placed second in the nation last year for overall team GPA in Division I women’s basketball programs.

With an overall GSR of 97 percent, the University ranks 10th nationwide behind only Brown (100 percent), Columbia (100 percent), American (99 percent), Colgate (99 percent), Dartmouth (99 percent), Notre Dame (99 percent), Holy Cross (98 percent), Harvard (98 percent) and Siena (98 percent).

Last spring, Bison athletics received APR Public Recognition Awards from the NCAA with the sixth-highest total in Division I sports. Thirteen programs surpassed the minimum requirement, putting out a perfect score.

“Our coach has a principle that family and friends come first, then school, followed closely by athletics. He expects us to be dedicated athletes, but he also wants to make sure that it does not prevent us from doing well and keeping up with school,” swimmer Kaitlyn Sweeney ’12 said.

The University’s student-athletes not only succeed competitively but academically as well, and their dedication and ability to balance their commitments is cause for admiration.

“The fact that Bucknell is recognized for elite academics and athletics is the reason I chose to come here. Bucknell student-athletes possess a high level of motivation and passion that is very difficult to find at any other institution,” Sweeney said.

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