Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Newest graduation rates low for UA football, basketball
Sonny Weems was one of nine players who left Arkansas without graduating following the 2007-08 season.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas' football and men's basketball graduation success rates (GSR) were the lowest in the Southeastern Conference for players who entered school from 2003 to 2006, according to NCAA statistics released Thursday.
The Razorbacks' football team had a graduation rate of 54 percent over that time, while the basketball team had a graduation rate of 10 percent. Those numbers reflect players recruited by former football coach Houston Nutt and basketball coach Stan Heath, but whose careers included the coaching tenures for Bobby Petrino and John Pelphrey.
Jeff Long Statement
“While we are seeing progress in both the GSR and Federal graduation rate data, it does not yet provide a true reflection of the progress we have made as a combined department. We are confident that in the coming years we will see the long-term positive results that other real time measurements have already indicated. Last year, for the first time, all 19 of our sports exceeded the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) benchmark. In addition, Razorback student-athletes posted a record grade point average of 3.09."
Arkansas' basketball program had the third-lowest rate in the NCAA over that time, ahead of Connecticut (8 percent) and Centenary (0 percent). The program was hit particularly hard when nine players left following the 2007-08 season, Pelphrey's first, without graduating. Some have since returned to complete their degrees.
That class set the Razorbacks' academic progress rate (APR) scores into a whirlwind in following years. Arkansas' 2007-08 APR score was 755, well below the NCAA benchmark of 925.
The NCAA penalized the Razorbacks with the loss of a scholarship as a result of that score, though APR scores have increased in recent years. In the latest reporting period, Arkansas had a score of 977 for the 2011-12 school year.
Arkansas' football program has remained above the NCAA benchmark for APR despite the low graduation rates.
The Razorbacks' 19 athletics programs had a cumulative graduation rate of 74 percent, a record for the university. Arkansas' all-sports graduation rate has increased each of the last five years.
It is expected to continue increasing in future years. A total of 94 current or former athletes graduated during the 2012-13 academic year.