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Educational Reforms Bring About Student-Athlete Successes

Graduation rates for college student-athletes are rising and the success of these student-athletes is credited to educational reforms. NCAA President Mark Emment observes, “Student-athletes continue to achieve academic success at record levels.” Emment contends that when the GSR (Graduation Success Rates) studies began more than 15 years ago, the NCAA set a goal that 80 percent of its student-athletes would graduate. With this challenge, the competitive spirit of the athletes was then ignited. These athletes have even exceeded the goal set before them. For instance, at the University of Southern California, the graduation success rate of student-athletes is now 86 percent, a rate that is an all-time high.

Other Contributing Factors to Successes of Student-Athletes

The rise in graduation rates for student-athletes is due in part to the increase in graduation rates for black student-athletes in all sports. Among men’s basketball players in the NCAA, black males have reached a graduation success rate of 78 percent in 2017 and 82 percent in 2018. Also influencing the increase in the number of student-athletes who are earning degrees are the policy changes that have been made. The President of Georgetown and Chair of the Division I Committee on Academics, John J. DeGioia, has remarked, “Policy changes continue to help support and prepare our students as they work toward graduation. Measuring the graduation success of our students is vital to help us gauge the effectiveness of policies we discuss, consider and implement.” With education now being the foundation of student athletics, more encouragement is given to the athletes in their academic ventures.

At the University of Kentucky, a “Student-Athlete Experience Division” has been created to equip student-athletes with required professional skills to help them pursue internships and employment opportunities after graduation. Other colleges, such as Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and Arkansas State University, have put into place goal-related programs such as summer internship programs, career development programs and programs that match alumni mentors with student-athletes. These programs also emphasize the importance of academic achievement and contribute to rising graduation rates.