TARGET 8: Analyzing student-athlete graduation rates

7 months 6 days 17 minutes ago June 16, 2016 Jun 16, 2016 Thursday, June 16 2016 Thursday, June 16, 2016 7:15:00 PM CDT in Sports
By: Chinmay Vaidya, KOMU 8 Sports Reporter

COLUMBIA — The NCAA tracks the likelihood of college athletes playing professionally depending on the sport.

In 2016, more than 480,000 students participated in college athletics and their chances of playing professionally are listed below. 

The NCAA tracks student-athlete graduation rates for all universities using a method called Graduation Success Rate. The NCAA developed this method as an alternative way to track graduation rates.

Meghan Durham, NCAA assistant director of public and media relations, said this method is better than the federal graduation rate because it accounts for student-athlete transfers and gives credit to institutions and those students.

Durham also said GSR has tracked more students than the federal graduation rate.

She said all universities are required to submit graduation records to the NCAA. GSR was first tracked for students entering college in the fall of 1998. For a comparison between GSR and the federal rate, click here

The University of Missouri has seen an increase in graduation rates among student-athletes in football and men's basketball, according to the NCAA data.

For the most recent year (2014-15), MU reported a graduation rate of 83 percent in football and 85 percent in basketball. Both statistics put MU in the top half of SEC schools for those sports. Below is data for all schools in the SEC for football and men's basketball. 

According to the University of Missouri athletics department, 71 MU student-athletes graduated in the 2016 spring semester. Tami Chievous, MU's associate athletic director of academic services, said the university devotes plenty of resources to ensure student-athletes graduate. 

"Each sport team has an academic coordinator that works directly with them and we have close to 100 tutors and mentors on staff," Chievous said. "Our biggest emphasis in academics is setting up grad plans and degree programs that they are interested in." 

Chievous said the program encourages athletes to take ownership of their education. 

"When we get progress reports back, if we see that someone is struggling or their grade has gone down, then we will meet with them and see if they would like to meet with a tutor or maybe meet with an additional tutor," Chievous said. "A lot of it is on the athlete. We do like them to be responsible for their education, take ownership in their academics and really find out a career path that their excited for." 

Former Missouri quarterback Chase Patton found his passion in dentistry after shadowing medical professionals while in school. He said he was interested in the medical field since his childhood. 

"Both my parents worked in the medical and so I was the kid that liked watching heart surgeries on TV," Patton said. "I started shadowing a little bit and talking to a few people, they said to look into dental school because the work-life balance is a little more stable." 

Patton had another dream as a kid; playing in the NFL. He said an ESPN article from 2008 opened up the opportunity for him to possible play professionally. 

"At the time I wasn't really sure what my chances were going to be a get a tryout in the NFL, it was always a dream of mine as a kid," Patton said. "I think having that article come out, it was kind of an opportunity, just because it kind of got my name out there and exposed the idea that backups can have a chance."

Patton said he knew from an early age that playing in the NFL wasn't a life-long career. 

"Everyone says the NFL stands for not for long and you hear about these guys that make millions and millions of dollars and end up bankrupt," Patton said. "It kind of opens your eyes to the fact that it's not a lifetime thing." 

Patton said he thinks it's important for prospective college athletes to keep focus on academics as more emphasis gets put on college athletics. 

"When I was in high school, there was Rivals and there was Power Mizzou and there were still ways to get your head filled up if you wanted it to but now it's even more," Patton said. "You've got Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all kinds of stuff where you're being told you're the greatest thing and I think that would be easy to say, "Well, I'm going to the NFL, I don't need to worry about school," I definitely think it has a big effect or can have a big effect."

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