Monday, April 16, 2007

Grats to the Nittany Lions/Graduation Rates

Many congratulations to the Nittany Lions of Penn State on making the home advantage stick, and taking their NCAA-high 12th National Championship in Men’s Gymnastics. They defeated Oklahoma, Stanford, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota in the team finals at State College on Friday. This came on the same weekend when police descended upon the campus to interview football players suspected in a burglary and assault. No points for guessing which story received more press.

The all round individual championship went to Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons of Oklahoma, whose teammate Jonathan Horton took the individual titles in the floor exercise and horizontal bar. Tim McNeil of California also scored two individual titles, in the pommel horse and the parallel bars. Stanford teammates Alex Schorsch and David Sender picked up the individual titles in Rings and Vault respectively.

Penn State also commands a respectable 78% graduation rate in NCAA sports ‘Other’ than Baseball, Basketball, Cross-Country/Track, and Football. It is no great shock that Stanford is tops amongst the participating teams at 89%, followed by Illinois and Michigan at 88% and 81% respectively. Minnesota at 61% and Oklahoma at 60% post respectable graduation rates, but considering the shenanigans that continue to proceed in both athletics departments, it is not surprising that they lag the other schools.


Superdestroyer said...

One of the things to ponder when looking at graduation rates is that the big sports schools have set the formula to make themselves look better. Stanford does not take transfers or junior college players. Thus, its football teams has a higher graduation rate since the transfer out do not count and there are no transfers in.

I would guess that most non-revenue sports do not have many trasnfers or any junior college players. Thus, the denominator would be the smaller than for schools than allow students to transfer in or sports with lots of transfers (like men's basketball).

Profane said...

Good points SD.

I am not sure, however, that Stanford is the best example. Yes, it is a big sports school, but, first and foremost, it is one of the best universities in the world, and they have not sacrificed academics on the altar of athletics success. This stands in marked contrast to many big sports schools.

Superdestroyer said...

At one time, Stanford was not allowing any of their football players to redshirt. They ended this practice to be better. Still, the football team does not have JUCO transfers or transfers from other schools. This will always make their gradation rate better.

A couple of years ago, the NCAA reported that the Naval academy has the best mean SAT score for its football team at around 1170. If this is true then Stanford, Northwestern, Rice, Vanderbilt, and Duke are all making huge concessions to their football teams since the entering freshmen at those schools all have higher mean SAT scores than the Naval Academy.

Profane said...

Two points in response:

1. SAT scores are one indicator, among many, which can be utilized both in admissions decisions and to predict academic success. Studies where SAT scores are not considered (most notably at Bates) have shown, however, that they are not a significant predictor of academic success (It is a good assumption that this would also be true at Stanford, another hyper-selective school). I am perfectly comfortable with athletic talent or other non-academic factors (like, say, the bassoon playing which probably got me into Bates) being considered so long as students are otherwise able to handle the academic pressures which are thrown at them.

2. The graduate rates in the football teams and general student bodies at the Universities you cite prove my point about Stanford:

University|Grad% FTB|Grad% Students

From this it would appear that Northwestern and Rice are making serious compromises, where Stanford and Vanderbilt are not.

Superdestroyer said...

I looked up the roster at Vanderbilt football. Only 10 seniors on the team including red shirt seniors. My guess that the recruiting class was about twice that number. Those other 10-15 players are probably outthere pulled down the graduation rate of some other school like Middle Tennessee State.

Just looking at the roster, I would say that for the players with a major listed it always seemed to be Human and Organizational Development.The was 64 red shirts listed on the schedule. If you gave all of the students at Vanderbilt five years to get a degree in organizational development, I hope that would all graduate.

Profane said...

Too many universities seem to have that sort of major, whether it be 'Leisure Studies', or 'Sports Management', or like, Texas A&M, 'Poultry Science'. I think it is a fair bet that I will be ranting about this in the future!