ASU's graduation rates for athletes are on the rise
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
There are lots of perks to being a big-time college athlete. They fly all over the country and stay in nice hotels. They have access to top trainers, and many enjoy a free education often worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But at the end of those college careers, some athletes come away with almost nothing to show for it.
When the cheering stops and their last game is the books, many players graduate and move on. But across the country, a surprising number of college athletes never cross that stage.
"When you point directly at football and men's basketball across the NCAA, graduation rates have lagged versus other sports," said Jean Boyd, the director of Academic Support at Arizona State University.
In Arizona, the graduation success rate at Northern Arizona University was 83 percent of all its athletes last year. That compares to 80 percent at ASU and 68 percent at the University of Arizona. When it comes to the top money-making sports, those numbers drop more than 10 percent.
At NAU, 69 percent of the men's basketball team graduated last year versus 67 percent at ASU. At the U of A, a little more than half of their men's basketball team took home diplomas. A similar pattern is seen with the football teams. All of the graduation rates can be found on the NCAA's website.
Boyd says good players often view college as a path to the pros. They "tend to sometimes see it more as a minor-league experience that's going to lend them to a professional career versus a holistic college experience," said Boyd, who once played football for the Sun Devils.
The reality is the vast majority of the players will never get paid to play.
"Statistics tell us that less than one quarter of one percent of high school athletes play professionally, so 99 percent are doing something else with their lives other than playing their sport," Boyd told CBS 5.
All athletes have major time demands to perform on the field and in the classroom.
"They're trying to balance textbook with playbooks," said Boyd, who says the Sun Devils have made huge strides in recent years when it comes to pushing up the number of athletes who graduate.
"To sum it up, we care. More than ever, athletic programs have learned that you can't expect for these high performances on the court and not take care of the student athletes in the other areas of their life," said Boyd.
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