The NCAA got some good news Thursday that had nothing to do with television contracts or bowl games.
For the first time, since NCAA officials started tracking graduation rates in 1984, Division I athletes have reached a 60% rate, according to an NCAA report annually produced from information collected by the U.S. Department of Education.
The 2002 report tracked the 1995-96 freshman class. According to the report, 60% of the athletes in Division I colleges and universities graduated within six years, the time frame used by the Department of Education to determine graduation success.
That compares to a 58% graduation rate for all full-time students at those same institutions. The rates for both groups rose two percentage points from a year ago.
"This is very encouraging," said Rutgers President Francis Lawrence, who chairs the Division I Board of Directors Task Force on Academic Reforms. "This is the first graduating class of student-athletes who were required to have 13 high school core classes in order to participate in athletics as freshmen. The results show we are on the right track."
Among Pac-10 schools, UCLA was third in athlete graduation at 73%. UCLA and Cal shared the second-highest percentage in overall graduation rates, 82%.
USC ranked fourth in overall graduation rates at 73%, and tied with Washington State in athlete rates at 62%.
Stanford was the top Pac-10 school in overall graduation rates, at 93%, and athlete rates, 90%.