Graduation rate for NIU athletes, students equal

By Carl Ackerman

NIU’s graduation rate for its student-athletes, according to its latest report, is the same as NIU’s general student body, 48.3 percent.

NIU must file an academic report to the NCAA each year which charts the graduation rates over a five-year period for recruited players and incoming transfers. The latest report, which represents the 1984-85 freshman class, was due Oct. 1, 1990.

The average for NCAA Division I schools is 47.4 percent.

“Our overall numbers are positive, but I’m not satisfied,” NIU Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell said.

Over the four-year period for the reports, O’Dell said the student-athlete’s graduation rate was 50.7 percent compared to 47.2 percent for the student body.

However, O’Dell stressed that these figures are misleading.

“If a student leaves (NIU) in good standing because he wants to transfer to another school, it is counted against (NIU) as a non-graduating student,” O’Dell said. “I don’t think the institution should be accountable for the student who leaves in good standing and transfers.

“Regardless of how NIU fares, I think the numbers are unfair to the institution,” O’Dell added.

For the next academic report, due Oct. 1, 1991, O’Dell said there will be changes in the policy.

For example, if a player leaves in good academic standing and also meets satisfactory progress requirements, it won’t be counted against the institution.

However, one stipulation O’Dell pointed out was that if a walk-on practices once and doesn’t make the team it would still count against the school’s graduation rate.

NIU’s football program graduated 11 out of 20 players from their 1984-85 freshman class, and men’s basketball graduated two out of seven players.

NIU’s women’s basketball program didn’t graduate anyone from its 1984-85 freshman class, but O’Dell said this was because the women had only two recruits that year.

“Sometimes the players may want to just transfer because they want to be closer to home, or they are not happy with the curriculum or discipline,” O’Dell said.

“I’m more interested in what’s happening with our programs now than in the past,” O’Dell said.