LSU ranked No. 2 in SEC in graduation rate

Herb Vincent

For the second straight year, LSU posted the second-highest graduation rate in the Southeastern Conference in the sport of football according to the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate data that was released on Thursday, and LSU's overall student-athlete mark reached an all-time high.

LSU's highest ranked team was women's basketball, which was tied with six other schools at the top of the SEC with a perfect Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 100. It is the second year in a row women's basketball scored 100 in the GSR.

LSU football's GSR of 77 trails only Vanderbilt's mark of 85 in the SEC. The only other SEC football programs with GSR scores above 70 are Alabama and Florida at 75 each.

LSU's overall student-athlete GSR mark is 80, the highest mark for LSU since the GSR was introduced in 2005. It represents a two-point increase over last year and an 11-point increase since 2008.

"We strive to have programs that perform at the highest level both in competition and in the classroom, and the performance of our student-athletes exemplifies the accomplishment of that goal," said Joe Alleva, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. "The hard work of our student-athletes along with the leadership our coaches, the dedication of our academic support staff and the work of the faculty and staff at LSU have made it possible to strike that important balance of athletics and academic achievement."

LSU football's score of 77 is well above the national mark of 68 for all Football Bowl Subdivision schools. The NCAA began reporting the GSR in 2006, and the LSU football program has shown improvement with each year's report, going from 51 in 2006 and 2007 to 54 in 2008, 60 in 2009, 67 in 2010 and 77 each of the last two years.

Also finishing high in the SEC was the men's swimming and diving program which tied for second with a score of 90. Other LSU sports with scores of 75 or above were volleyball at 92, gymnastics at 91, women's golf at 89, women's swimming and diving and women's tennis at 88, softball at 83, women's track & field at 79, men's tennis at 78 and soccer at 76.

The largest increase in scores over the previous year were posted in the sports of men's swimming & diving with an improvement of 16 points from 74 in 2011 to 90 in 2012, and baseball which improved from 60 in 2011 to 70 in 2012.

"Graduation is a team-effort, and we are fortunate to have such a dedicated team whose priority is to graduate our student-athletes," said Kenneth Miles, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes. "This includes our CCACSA's staff, Academic Affairs, faculty and staff, coaches, and the athletic administration. We are fortunate to work with such a conscientious team as we strive to be the premiere academic resource for LSU student-athletes."

The NCAA developed the Graduation Success Rate to more accurately assess the academic success of student-athletes. The rate holds institutions accountable for transfer students, unlike the federal graduation rate. The GSR also accounts for mid-year enrollees and is calculated for every sport.

Under the calculation, institutions are not penalized for outgoing transfer students who leave in good academic standing. The outgoing transfers are included in the receiving institution's GSR cohort.

The most recent Division I Graduation Success Rates are based on the four entering classes from 2002-2003 through 2005-06. The NCAA began compiling these figures with the entering freshmen class of 1995.