Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
UA has record academic rate, behind others in SEC
Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long is shown on the sideline during the Razorbacks' 52-20 loss to Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Eighty percent of the athletes that enrolled at the University of Arkansas between 2007-10 graduated within six years, according to numbers released by the NCAA on Wednesday.
The 80 percent score was Arkansas' highest ever in the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR), but ranks last among the 14 universities in the Southeastern Conference.
GSR is a calculation of how many athletes graduate within six academic years of college enrollment. Arkansas’ previous GSR score was 78 last year and the latest score is 33 percent higher than the 60 it received in the NCAA’s first report in 2005.
Vanderbilt, a private university, led all SEC members this year with a 96 percent rate. Five public universities - South Carolina, Missouri, LSU, Mississippi State and Alabama - graduated at least 90 percent of their athletes.
Texas A&M (81 percent) finished just ahead of Arkansas among SEC universities.
In a release, Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long championed the findings in the latest GSR, stating his department has "worked purposefully to provide additional support and encouragement to assist" athletes over the past decade, and the department has "made tremendous progress."
The Razorbacks' two most profitable sports, football and men's basketball, recorded their highest scores in the GSR.
Football's score of 60 was three points higher than 57 a year ago, and 13 points better than the program low of 47 in 2005.
Basketball's score of 75 was 25 percent higher than last year's rate of 60. The basketball program had a low score of 10 in 2013.
According to incentives outlined in their contracts, Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson and football coach Bret Bielema each will receive bonuses within 30 days because of the scores. Anderson will receive the maximum bonus possible of $100,000, while Bielema will receive a bonus of $25,000.
Neither coach recruited the players whose scores were reflected in the latest GSR, but both coached some of them early in their tenures at Arkansas.
Arkansas baseball had a GSR score of 65, which is nine points lower than last year's score of 74. The Razorbacks' 2007-10 freshman baseball classes included several players that were drafted to play professional baseball as sophomores or juniors, which likely had a negative effect on the program's GSR score.
Six Arkansas programs - soccer, swimming/diving, volleyball, women's golf, men's golf and men's tennis - recorded 100 percent graduation rates in the latest reporting cycle. Other notable scores at Arkansas include women's basketball (77), men's cross country/track (79) and women's cross country/track (81).
GSR is one of two annual report cards issued by the NCAA to track academic trends in college athletics. The Academic Progress Rate (APR) is released each spring and focuses on athletes' eligibility and retention during four-year and single-year periods.
SEC Graduation Success Rates - 2010 Cohort
South Carolina 93
Mississippi State 90
Ole Miss 84
Texas A&M 81
South Carolina 98
Mississippi State 84
Ole Miss 68
Texas A&M 68
South Carolina 100
Ole Miss 82
Texas A&M 80
Mississippi State 50
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