Athlete graduation rates drop

Stephanie Sansoucy

Appalachian State University’s average athlete graduation success rate is below the national average of 82 percent, according to the director of the Learning Assistance Program, Jean Roberts.

Appalachian’s student-athlete graduation success rate for 2013 is 80 percent, 2 percent below the national average. It is the first time in the last five years that Appalachian has been below the national average.

The student-athlete GSR in 2009 and 2010 was 88 percent, and 86 and 82 percent in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

The average athlete GSR of the UNC system’s 11 Division 1 schools is 76 percent, which is below the national average, as well. Only North Carolina State University, UNC Charlotte, UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Wilmington were at or above the 82 percent average.

Roberts said that while many factors can be attributed to why Appalachian is below the national average, it is important to realize that it is a year-to-year measure and only 2 percentage points below the average.

“That percentage may account for one or two student-athletes,” Roberts said. “It could be that a few student-athletes left before graduating to play professionally and had exhausted their eligibility. This number only indicates that they didn’t graduate in that time period. It doesn’t account for the fact that they may have returned at a later date to complete their degree, which happens very frequently at Appalachian.”

When a student-athlete leaves school early to play at the professional level, they are no longer eligible to return to play college sports, exhausting their eligibility.

Roberts said that many football and baseball players have been drafted after their eligibility is up and before they have completed graduation requirements and returned during off-seasons or after their playing career is over to complete their degree.
The most recent GSR report submitted was for students entering college in 2004, Roberts said.

“Graduation success rates really are not the best measure for academic success of student-athletes anymore,” said Mike Flynn, University Program Specialist in the Athletics Department. “The Academic Progress Rate numbers have become such a big deal in determining how student-athletes are doing in the classroom.”

The APR is a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete, each term.

Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one retention point for staying in school and one eligibility point for being academically eligible. A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s APR score, according to

Appalachian’s APR for the 2011-2012 school year, the most recent year available, was 976. That is two points above the most recent four-year Division 1 APR of 974, according to numbers found on

Appalachian offers support to student-athletes through Academic Services for Student-Athletes, which is housed within the Learning Assistance Program.

These services include orientation, academic advising, career and personal counseling, free tutoring, NCAA eligibility information, priority registration, athletic study hall and progress reports, according to

Stoy: GERRIT VAN GENDEREN, News Reporter