Kentucky, Louisville basketball programs still lag in graduation rates WKU perfect in latest NCAA report

The men’s basketball programs at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville continue to lag behind the national average for graduation rate, according to figures released by the NCAA.

Those numbers show that 64 percent of all men’s basketball players who entered NCAA Division I schools from 1999-2002 went on to graduate within six years.

At UK, 31percent of those players graduated within six years. U of L graduated 38 percent. Western Kentucky graduated 100 percent.

The results from UK and UofL were down slightly from the 1998-2001 entry classes: 38 percent for UK and 42 percent for UofL.

Sandy Bell, associate athletic director at UK, said that the 33 percent graduation rate for men’s basketball players who entered school in 2002 reflected three players. One of them graduated, one transferred and one turned pro early, she said, adding that both of the latter left in good academic standing.

As for UK’s four-year rate, Bell pointed out that the window included a Tubby Smith-coached team that earned the nickname “Team Turmoil,” and she conceded “there were some issues” with players during that period.

“With very few student-athletes in the sport of men’s basketball, it only takes a few to drop your average from 100 to 33 very quickly,” Bell said. “There are going to be some (players) who aren’t going to fit, and those numbers are really going to show up in men’s basketball because the entire group is so small.”

The Graduation Success Rate differs from the Academic Progress Rate, a formula used to measure student-athlete retention and progress toward a degree. NCAA schools are subject to penalties, including loss of scholarships, for failure to meet a minimum standard in the APR. No such penalties exist for the GSR numbers released Wednesday.

Bell noted that UK received commendation for its performance in the most recent report on academic progress, ranking in the top 10percent of men’s basketball programs.

The men’s basketball programs at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville continue to lag behind the national average for graduation rate, according to figures released by the NCAA.

U of L athletic director Tom Jurich said: “We’ve been making solid progress academically, and our numbers reflect that. There’s a commitment from everyone on our coaching and support staffs to provide what is needed to help our student-athletes to achieve in the classroom. While we’re not satisfied, we’re moving in the right direction.”

UK and UofL also were behind the national averages for football, in which 66 percent of all freshman players who entered Division I schools from 1999-2002 wound up graduating. At UK 55 percent of those players graduated, virtually unchanged from the 56 percent in last year’s report. At UofL it was 59 percent, compared with last year’s 58 percent.

WKU had 100 percent in both men’s and women’s basketball and 63 percent in football.
“This report is tremendous validation that our student-athletes are as determined to excel in the classroom as they are on the playing field,” WKU athletic director Wood Selig said.

Indiana University was higher in men’s basketball (57 percent) than UofL and UK. The Hoosiers graduated 67 percent in football.

In men’s basketball, Murray State graduated 73 percent, Morehead State 50 percent and Eastern Kentucky 31 percent. EKU graduated 77 percent in football, Murray State and Morehead State both 44 percent.
Brett Dawson can be reached at (859) 523-0706.

By Brett Dawson • bdawson@courier-journal.com