FBS graduation rates rise to 69 percent

The NCAA said Wednesday the graduation success rate for Football Bowl Subdivision players who entered college in 2003 rose to 69 percent, a three percent increase since the release of last year's report.

Overall, the NCAA says the graduation success rate is 79 percent for all athletes and 66 percent for men's basketball players.

In a conference call Wednesday, NCAA president Mark Emmert said the data helps eliminate the perception of the so-called "dumb jock."

"We are by no means satisfied by what we are reporting, but it's a step in the right direction," Emmert said.

The NCAA's formula takes into account transfer students and is different than the federal government's methodology. According to the federal government, student-athletes who entered school in 2003 graduated at a 64 percent rate, the highest federal rate ever and one point higher than the general student body.

"If you ask people what their perception is of student-athletes versus general students, they say they're not doing as well," Emmert said. "But the reality is they're doing just as well."

Emmert said he was pleased with the growing academic success of minority students in football and men's basketball. For example, Emmert noted the GSR for African-American men's basketball players jumped three points over the past year and hit 60 percent for the first time.

Emmert estimated there are approximately 300 more African-American male student-athletes who graduated compared to last year.

Additional data shows graduation rates at 18 of the top 25 schools in the BCS standings were at least 60 percent under the four-year measures. Stanford (86 percent), Miami (81 percent), Iowa and Virginia Tech (79) and Missouri (71) posted the best scores.

Only two schools, Oklahoma (44) and Arizona (48), fell below 50 percent in both measures.

But in men's basketball, 10 of the teams in the final top 25 poll produced graduation rates of 60 percent or worse based on the NCAA calculations. Three schools scored in the 30s -- Maryland (31), Temple (33) and Baylor (38). Connecticut, which is under NCAA investigation, was at 31 percent.

Villanova and Brigham Young each had 100 percent. Duke, the national champion, and Butler, the national runner-up, were both at 83 percent.

And Washington, where Emmert was president from June 2004 until taking the NCAA job, had a graduation rate of 44 percent in men's basketball. Emmert defended coach Lorenzo Romar and the efforts the university has made to improve those numbers.

"I know in my six years there, we added significantly to the academic support program and Lorenzo Romar has been working very aggressively in the players he's been recruiting," Emmert said. "He's had a number of players go on to the NBA, but I think the program there, that's a program I feel very good about and I think they're moving in the right direction."

Joe Schad is ESPN's college football reporter. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.