|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
San Luis Obispo Tribune 6-9-04
Cal Poly may force teams to meet graduation rate
CAL POLY - Cal Poly President Warren Baker intends to sign a faculty resolution that would require the university's athletic teams to post a graduation rate of at least 50 percent to be eligible for postseason play.
Poly would be among the first schools in the nation to add the requirement. It has not been determined when it would take effect.
It's not yet clear which, if any, Cal Poly teams would not make the cut, because the university as yet only compiles graduation rates for students who are on athletic scholarships.
The resolution from the Academic Senate counts all members of teams, regardless of whether they receive an athletic scholarship. It would use an average graduation rate -- which gives students six years to graduate -- for each team over the previous four years.
Using this method, Cal Poly's student-athletes on athletic scholarships graduate at a rate of 59 percent, compared to 65 percent for the entire student body, according to NCAA figures. Women have a higher rate than men -- 70 percent versus 53 percent.
The NCAA requires universities to compile the figures only for scholarship students but is in the process of establishing more rigorous guidelines that will include all team members.
The four-year average graduation rate for scholarship athletes at Cal Poly is 49 percent in football, 47 percent in baseball, and 38 percent in basketball.
The graduation rates increase when nonscholarship athletes are added, said interim Athletic Director Alison Cone, though she added she does not know exact figures.
"We haven't broken that down for every team," Cone said, "but we think we'd have few problems with that."
Math professor George Lewis, the Academic Senate chairman and author of the resolution, said after speaking with athletic department officials that the proposed rule would have a minimal impact at Cal Poly.
Lewis made the proposal in spite of the university's relative success graduating athletes.
"If Cal Poly adopts this policy, it would serve as a model to others, especially others in the (California State University system)," he said.
The Cal Poly proposal already has the support of the athletic department, Cone said.
"I think everybody looks at it as a reasonable expectation," said Cone, who has discussed the issue with coaches. "I haven't heard one negative reaction to it yet."
Robert Detweiler, Cal Poly's interim provost, said Baker intends to sign the resolution in the coming weeks, giving the university a rare distinction.
"There aren't very many universities that have taken this step," he said, "and when they do they usually look at just the students on athletic scholarships."
Lewis said members of the local senate will take the same proposal to the statewide CSU Academic Senate later this year. He acknowledges, however, the idea is a long shot for systemwide passage.
The proposal goes beyond what is required by the NCAA, where officials approved new rules in April that force student-athletes to complete 40 percent, 60 percent and 80 percent of the requirements for a degree by the end of years two, three and four. NCAA graduation rates will be determined soon.
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