Most UH teams not making grade
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Brandon Masuoka
The majority of athletic teams at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa had graduation rates below the Division I average, according to a new NCAA study released yesterday.
The Graduation Success Rate tracked 91,051 scholarship athletes who arrived from high school or transferred from other colleges from 1995-98 and who earned their degrees within six years. It studied 318 institutions in Division I-A, I-AA and I-AAA.
The Graduation Success Rate is a part of the NCAA's academic reform initiative, which rewards and penalizes colleges based on academic progress. The NCAA also released last February, the Academic Progress Rate, which tracks the academic progress of current student-athletes to determine classroom excellence. The NCAA will let schools use its Graduation Success Rate in appeals if they face penalties.
According to the new study, Hawai'i had graduation rates below the Division I average in 13 of 16 sports.
"This first-year data from the NCAA is a starting point for us," UH athletic director Herman Frazier said. "We will have conversations with our coaches and academic affairs staff to devise our plan of action. This is always a work in progress in collegiate athletics."
UH men's basketball (25 percent) and football (40 percent) had the lowest graduation rates compared with the Division I average of 58 and 64 percent, respectively, the study reported.
"It really doesn't make sense why the graduation rates are so low," said UH junior football player Kenny Patton, who has a 3.7 grade point average, and is an all-conference academic honoree. "You give yourself and your time in your sport, but you also have to take a degree with you. Otherwise you're just wasting your time."
Only UH baseball (67 percent), men's tennis (100 percent) and women's water polo (100 percent) posted better rates than the Division I average, the study said.
Patton, who is majoring in English, and is scheduled to graduate in 4 1/2 years next December, said the university gives student-athletes access to tutors, academic advising and computers at the Nagatani Academic Center at the athletic complex.
Coaches conduct academic checks on student-athletes, and professors will sometimes allow student-athletes extended schoolwork deadlines, Patton said.
"They do everything they can to help us out," Patton said. "You have to not want to graduate to not graduate."
In a 2004 NCAA study, 65 percent of the student-athletes who entered UH in 1997 graduated within six years. Only 54 percent of the non-athletes at UH graduated within that same time span.
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