Graduation rates of athletes reported and published by individual institutions and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) don’t tell us what we need to know. Neither do academic progress rates (APR) published annually by the NCAA. These metrics are intended to shed light on the academic integrity of college sports programs. Unfortunately, they don’t.
To be sure, many college sports programs do in fact have academic integrity. My point is simply this: You can’t tell which schools have academic integrity by their published graduation rates and APR data.
That’s because academic integrity is a process, not a single outcome measure.
Academic integrity is not the percent of student-athletes achieving graduation. It’s how those students did it. Did they graduate under legitimate college curricula with appropriate academic support? Or was it through bogus courses and majors created not only to keep athletes eligible but also to advance them toward graduation?
We don’t know the answers to these important questions from looking at graduation rates and APR numbers.
The only way to know if academic integrity exists is to monitor the academic process. This is the responsibility of each individual institution. Sadly, some schools have dropped the ball on this important issue.
As a former NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative, I’m interested in all aspects of college sports. But I take high graduation rates and APR numbers with a grain of salt unless I’m confident the school has done its due diligence in monitoring the academic integrity of its sports programs.