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Eastern Kentucky University student-athletes are graduating at a rate of 81 percent, according to the NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) report released by the organization this week.

The report states Eastern Kentucky graduated 81 percent of its student-athletes who entered college in 2006-2009 on scholarship.  Eight of 13 sports met or exceeded the GSR average compared to other NCAA Division I institutions.

For the purpose of the report, men’s outdoor track, indoor track and cross country are combined into one sport, as are women’s outdoor track, indoor track and cross country.

Eastern’s men’s basketball, women’s golf and volleyball programs had the highest GSR in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The women’s golf and volleyball programs posted perfect 100 percent Graduation Success Rates.  A total of eight EKU sports had rates among the top four in the Commonwealth.

Football, women’s golf and volleyball had the highest graduation rates in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The Division I Board of Directors created the GSR in response to Division I college and university presidents who wanted data that more accurately reflected the mobility of college students than the federal graduation rate.  The federal rate counts any student who leaves a school as an academic failure, no matter whether he or she enrolls at another school.  Also, the federal rate does not recognize students who enter school as transfer students.

Despite those limitations of the federal graduation rate, EKU student-athletes maintain a much higher federal graduation rate than the University’s student body as a whole.  The 2009-10 cohort graduated at a rate of 60 percent, compared to 45 percent for the student body.  Early data reported to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) shows the student-athlete rate has grown to 66 percent with the 2010-11 cohort (official graduation rates to be released December 2016).

The GSR formula removes from the rate student-athletes who leave school while academically eligible and includes student-athletes who transfer to a school after initially enrolling elsewhere.  This calculation makes it a more complete and accurate look at student-athlete success.

The rate also allows for a deeper understanding of graduation success in individual sports than the federal metric, which provides only broad groupings.