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DII single-year ASR drops by a point; four-year average is constant

By David Pickle

A drop in graduation rates for two- and four-year transfers led to a small decline for the entering class of 2005 in the latest Division II Academic Success Rate.

The overall Division II ASR for the 2005 cohort was 72 percent, down 1 percent from the previous report. The four-year average remained at 72 percent. Results were announced Thursday.

The single-year rate for men was 64 percent (down 2 percent); for women, it was 83 percent (also down 2 percent). Rounding accounts for the discrepancy between the overall figure and the gender breakdowns.

The ASR for two-year college transfers was volatile for the second consecutive reporting period. The rate jumped 3.5 percent from the 2003 to the 2004 cohort but then plummeted by 7 percent to 56 percent for the 2005 group. A similar drop was noted among four-year transfers, whose ASR has dropped each of the last three years, falling from 73.5 percent for the 2002 cohort to 65 most recently. These transfer rates count only the 275 institutions that submitted ASR data in each of the four years to keep the data from being influenced by changes in membership.

The decline in ASRs for two-year and four-year college transfers has been exacerbated by an increase in the number of transfers.

Division II Presidents Council chair Pat O’Brien noted significant progress over the last several years with graduation rates but also expressed concerns over the transfer-student outcomes.

“This is the first decline we’ve experienced since our first ASR report six years ago,” said O’Brien, president of West Texas A&M University. “The fact that we’ve made such steady progress in such a difficult economic environment is encouraging.

“Still, some aspects of the most recent report are concerning, especially the declines among our transfer student-athletes.”

Division II is in the process of reviewing its academic requirements. Concepts are being discussed that would strengthen the standards for two-year college transfers and that also would bolster progress-toward-degree requirements, which would address issues with four-year transfers. The membership will discuss concepts in detail at the 2013 Convention, with legislative changes to be considered in 2014.

Division II’s Academic Success Rate counts all student-athletes (those who receive athletics aid and those who don’t) and accounts for transfers. That contrasts with the compilation required by the federal government, which counts only student-athletes receiving athletics aid. The federal rate, which also was released Thursday, does not count incoming transfers at all and counts transfers out as not having graduated. The ASR counts about 105,000 Division II student-athletes, minus about 25,000 who left their institution in good academic standing, compared to about 49,000 through the federal method.

The Division II federal rate for the 2005 entering class was 55 percent, unchanged from last year. Student-athletes continued to graduate at a higher rate than the general student body, with the gap increasing to 7 percent because of a 1 percent decline in the overall student rate (now 48 percent).

The sports with the highest 2002-05 ASRs were field hockey and women’s lacrosse, at 93 and 90 percent, respectively. Tennis scored best among men’s sports (counting only those with more than 100 student-athletes) at 78 percent, with ice hockey (not a Division II championship sport) next at 77 percent (skiing, rifle and water polo all were at or above 77, but with small numbers). Sports with increased ASRs from the last report were men’s volleyball (not a Division II championship sport) and soccer, and women’s golf, ice hockey and field hockey – all up 1 percent.

Football (54 percent) and wrestling (57 percent) were the lowest-scoring sports, followed by men’s basketball at 58 percent.

ASR  (increase/decrease from 2001-04 cohorts)

Men’s sports ASR 
Baseball 69% (-1)
Basketball 58% (-2)
Cross country/track 72% (--)
Fencing 71% (-5)
Football 54% (--)
Golf 73% (-1)
Ice hockey 77% (-1)
Lacrosse 76% (--)
Rifle 82% (-6)
Skiing 86% (-1)
Soccer 72% (+1)
Swimming and diving 75% (-1)
Tennis 78% (-1)
Volleyball 72% (+1)
Water polo 77% (--)
Wrestling 57% (-3)
Women’s sports ASR 
Basketball 79% (--)
Bowling 85% (-3)
Crew 89% (--)
Cross country/track 83% (-1)
Fencing 81% (-2)
Field hockey 93% (+1)
Golf 85% (+1)
Gymnastics 85% (-1)
Ice hockey 83% (+1)
Lacrosse 90% (--)
Skiing 82% (-2)
Soccer 82% (-2)
Softball 81% (-1)
Swimming and diving 87% (-1)
Tennis 86% (--)
Volleyball 82% (--)
Water polo 86% (-5%)

While the ASR for white males for the 2005 cohort remained at 72 percent, ASRs for African-American males fell to 46 percent. The ASR for Blacks had grown from 42 to 49 for the 1999-2003 cohorts. In the last two reports, however, the rate has declined by three points.

The drop has been most notable in the high-participation sports of track/cross country and basketball, both down from the 2004 to the 2005 class. Despite the decline, track/cross country is still up 7 percent from the original ASR report. Basketball is up 1 point for the period.

In football, the rate for black males was up a point, from 42 percent for the 2004 cohort to 43 percent for 2005.

The ASRs for white women fell by 2 points to 86 percent. Sharp drops were noted in cross country/track and soccer. Volleyball registered a small decline while softball was unchanged.

For black women, the ASR for track was unchanged at 70 percent from last year, but volleyball (down 6 to 72) and basketball (down 8 to 64) declined sharply.

Even though the report sounded a few more alarms than usual, O’Brien emphasized that the overall outcome remained positive.

“About three out of four of our student-athletes graduate within six years of initial enrollment, and student-athletes continue to graduate at a higher rate than the overall student body,” he said.