Kansas University’s athletic department just missed tying the school record for collective graduation by earning a Graduation Success Rate score of 84 percent.
This year’s mark, which is a four-class average and takes into account students who entered college from 2003-06, was one point shy of the school record of 85 percent, which was set in 2012. Until that point, KU’s previous high was 79 percent.
“Because we’ve had consistent, good rates over the course of time, it has become a non-emergency,” said Paul Buskirk, KU’s associate athletic director for student support. “It’s not like I have to come running to (a coach’s) office with the graduation rates, because, really, the kids are doing what we’ve asked them to do and expect them to do.”
Five KU programs achieved perfect GSR scores, according to numbers released by the NCAA on Thursday and shared by KU staff members shortly thereafter. They were: men’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, softball and women’s tennis.
Men’s and women’s golf as well as men’s basketball received perfect GSR scores for the second year in a row, and eight of KU’s 14 programs (cross country and track are grouped together) posted 90 percent GSRs or higher.
“(Men’s basketball coach Bill) Self is very proud of these numbers,” Buskirk said. “And he makes it very clear that the young men who come and participate in his program are part of a family, but they also have an obligation, should they choose to leave early, to make sure they take care of the family by taking care of their academic business. And they’ve all done that very well.”
Every other program in the department showed progress from recent years, and Buskirk said KU’s graduation numbers were trending upward across the board and expected to keep climbing in the years ahead. He also said he preferred the GSR results over the APR numbers, which are released in March and more clearly show the overall picture of the athletic department’s current academic state.
“They have different impacts,” Buskirk said of the GSR and APR. “The one that means the most to me is right here. This is, you finish what you started.”
One reason APR numbers draw more attention is the rewards and penalties associated with good and bad performance. Buskirk said there are no such measures taken with graduation rates.
The NCAA average GSR is 81 percent.