UGA posts its best score on NCAA graduation success report

The NCAA released its annual Graduation Success Rate report on Tuesday afternoon and the academic sore spot in UGA’s recent athletic history -- the men’s basketball program -- continues to show progress.

UGA’s overall GSR score for all athletes increased to 79 percent from 77 a year ago. That represents the school’s highest score since the NCAA implemented the GSR report in 2005.

The GSR report measures a four-year graduation percentage within the six-year window the NCAA provides for student-athletes to graduate. This year’s report tracks the graduation rates for freshmen who enrolled in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Georgia’s men’s basketball program hovered for several years around a 20-percent graduation success rate, but the Bulldogs’ percentage increased to 43 percent this year. It was 36 percent last year and 18 in 2009.

Georgia still ranks well below the overall NCAA four-year average for men’s basketball, which this year is 66 percent.

Georgia’s football program dropped from 68 percent to 65 -- a total that ranks fifth in the SEC. Vanderbilt football was the league’s top performer at 86 percent, followed by LSU (77), Florida (76), Alabama (69), Georgia, Auburn (63), Mississippi State (62), Kentucky (61), Tennessee (61), Arkansas (56), Ole Miss (54) and South Carolina (39).

The Bulldogs had two scholarship sports teams post a 100-percent score on the GSR report: women’s tennis -- which scored 100 each year between 2007 and 2011 -- and women’s gymnastics, which posted its third consecutive 100.

Other Georgia scores: baseball (64), men’s cross country/track (79), men’s golf (86), men’s swimming and diving (89), men’s tennis (75), women’s basketball (77), women’s cross country/track (85), women’s golf (88), soccer (95), softball (95), women’s swimming and diving (88), volleyball (92) and equestrian (72).

The single-year average GSR for all NCAA student-athletes who enrolled in 2004 is 82 percent, a new high score on the report.

However, Georgia’s scores in each of the four main sports rank below the four-year national average in that sport. Georgia scored 65 in football, two points below the average of 67 percent among FBS schools; it scored 43 in men’s basketball, while the average is 66; UGA scored 64 percent in baseball, eight points below the average of 72 percent; and it scored 77 percent in women’s basketball, while the four-year average is 84.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity’s quote in the university release:

“We’re glad to see our trend upward in most every sport continue and especially the dramatic improvement in our sports over the last five-year period. It’s obvious our coaches and academic counseling staff over the last several years have been diligent in their support of our student-athletes and their success. It’s extremely gratifying to have 13 of our 17 sports improve or remain the same from last year and the decline in the other four was minimal. While most of the report is encouraging in the big picture, we still have plenty of room to continue improving and will remain totally committed to working hard with our student-athletes in all academic areas.”

Some notes from the NCAA press release concerning its methodology:

The NCAA developed the Graduation Success Rate to more accurately assess the academic success of student-athletes. The rate holds institutions accountable for transfer students, unlike the federal graduation rate. The GSR also accounts for midyear enrollees and is calculated for every sport.

Under the calculation, institutions are not penalized for outgoing transfer students who leave in good academic standing. The outgoing transfers are included in the receiving institution’s GSR cohort.

By counting incoming transfer students and midyear enrollees, the GSR increases the total number of student-athletes tracked for graduation by 37 percent.

The most recent Division I Graduation Success Rates are based on the four entering classes from 2001-2002 through 2004-05. Nearly 105,000 student-athletes are included in the most recent four classes using the GSR methodology.