As if their 1-7 record for the season so far weren't bad enough, now there's the news that UC Berkeley's football team has the worst graduation rate among the nation's 72 major football universities. The basketball team also ranked among the lowest five in the latest NCAA rankings.
The news "is an embarrassing and frustrating situation for one of the proudest institutions in America," San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist says at the top of the front page of paper's sports section today, Sunday. "UC Berkeley is, by many accounts, the top public university in the nation."
In the NCAA rankings, released Thursday, football players who enrolled at Cal between 2003 and 2006 had a graduation rate of 44 percent, the lowest among the six major athletic conferences.
The Pac-12 Conference, in which Cal plays, was led by Stanford with a 93-percent graduation rate, followed by UCLA with 82 percent. The second lowest rate in the Pac-12 was the University of Southern California with 57 percent.
The Cal athletic department accented the positive side of the NCAA results with a news release headlined, "Four Cal Teams Post 100% Graduation Rate Scores." The four teams with 100-percent rates were all women's teams – lacrosse, tennis, volleyball and water polo.
Cal's 23 measured sports had an overall graduation rate of 78 percent, with an all-time high of 9 teams above 90 percent, the university said.
Cal stressed that none of the players that have joined the team under new head coach Sonny Dykes were included in the statistics, and that Dykes is making academic achievement one of his top priorities.
"From the time Dykes joined the Golden Bear staff, total of 24 football student-athletes earned their degrees from December 2012 through August 2013," the university's athletic department said. "The team also posted its highest term GPA in five years during the spring 2013 semester, and the average rose to the team’s highest in 10 years over the summer term. As a result, the squad’s NCAA Academic Progress Rate, which will reflect data for student-athletes for the 2012-13 academic year, is expected to show a significant improvement from past years when it is released in the spring."
Dykes was quoted saying, “We are proud of the outstanding progress our football program has made academically in a short period of time. Our staff places a tremendous value on the education our players receive as student-athletes and we expect them to take advantage of the opportunity to graduate from the No. 1 public institution in the world."
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