Examining the ACC’s graduation success rates

The ACC boasts some of America’s premier academic instutions. So it’s no surprise that the league claims some of the nation’s top graduation success rates (GSRs), as recently released by the NCAA.

According to the NCAA’s website, the student-athlete graduation success rate is calculated based on the proportion of first-year, full-time student-athletes who entered a school on athletics aid and graduated from that institution within six years. The recent numbers are based on student-athletes who enrolled at ACC member schools between 2007 and 2010. Giving them a full six years to graduate, these are students who should have graduated between 2013 and 2016.

The graduation success rate takes into account student-athletes who transfer in good academic standing to other schools. This is why college administrators prefer the GSR over the federal rate, which treats transfers as academic failures. The federal rates across intercollegiate athletics are much lower than the graduation success rate.

The ACC stands as the nation’s top Power 5 program in graduation success rates for the three major revenue men’s sports of baseball, basketball, and football.

In all, 30 of 43 ACC teams in those three sports reached graduation success rates above the national average. The ACC ranks first in the Power 5 in both baseball and basketball, while tying for first in football.

Notre Dame may not be an official member of football in the ACC. But the institution significantly raises the league’s profile in both men’s basketball and baseball, among other sports.

Notre Dame, the national champion for 2017 for Division I in graduation success rate, ties Duke for the ACC lead in men’s basketball with a perfect 100. The Fighting Irish are tied for second with Boston College and Duke in baseball, with a GSR of 95. Only Clemson, who scored a 100 on the diamond, posted a higher figure. Notre Dame’s GSR of 96 in football would tie for first place in the ACC with Duke if the Irish were a full member.

The Blue Devils lead the way for the ACC in both men’s basketball and football GSRs, with rates of 100 on the hardwood, and 96 on the gridiron. Duke is the only athletic program in the ACC with GSRs at 90 and above in all three revenue men’s sports.

Boston College is not far behind Duke in GSRs in football and baseball. The Eagles (90) join Duke and Wake Forest (93) as one of three ACC schools with 90 or better GSRs in football. BC is also one of four ACC baseball programs with GSRs of 95 or better.

Although Miami ranks only in the top three of the men’s basketball GSR rankings (92), they also posted solid rates in football (88) and baseball (83). Louisville also posted a solid men’s basketball GSR, at 91, but ranked last in baseball (76), and 11th in football (76).

Virginia Tech posted GSRs in the 80s in all three revenue men’s sports. Clemson also posted rates in the 80s in football and basketball to go along with the 100 the Tigers scored in baseball.

Only one ACC athletic program – North Carolina – ranked in the bottom five among its leaguewide peers in GSR in all three men’s revenue sports. The Tar Heels ranked dead-last in GSR in men’s basketball (40) and football (66), while ranking 11th in baseball (81).

In a University statement, UNC director of athletics Bubba Cunningham explained that the school’s low graduation success rate in men’s basketball was attributed largely to underclassmen leaving for the NBA, and not completing their studies within the six-year window.

“Players who leave in good academic standing don’t count against a school,” Cunningham said. “But when those players begin to take classes to finish their degree, which obviously we all agree is a good thing, they count against you if the degree is not completed within the six-year window. That happens frequently and needs to be addressed by the NCAA.”


ACC Graduation Success Rates (2007-2010 cohort)

ACC Basketball (15 schools)

Duke 100

Notre Dame 100

Miami 92

Louisville 91

Clemson 88

Florida State 85

Georgia Tech 82

Pittsburgh 80

Virginia Tech 80

Virginia 78

Boston College 71

Wake Forest 71

Syracuse 60

N.C. State 56

North Carolina 40


ACC Football (14 schools)

Duke 96

Wake Forest 93

Boston College 90

Miami 88

Virginia Tech 86

Clemson 85

Georgia Tech 82

Syracuse 82

Virginia 82

Louisville 76

Florida State 74

N.C. State 74

Pittsburgh 74

North Carolina 66


ACC Baseball (14 schools)

Clemson 100

Boston College 95

Duke 95

Notre Dame 95

N.C. State 85

Wake Forest 85

Virginia Tech 85

Miami 83

Pittsburgh 83

North Carolina 81

Virginia 78

Florida State 76

Georgia Tech 76

Louisville 76


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