NCAA Hockey Graduation Rate Tops Among Major Sports

The NCAA has released its latest report on graduation rates for US college student-athletes. Of the four major sports (football, basketball, baseball, and ice hockey), hockey leads hands-down.

NCAA hockey players have the highest graduation rate among the four major sports.
NCAA hockey players have the highest graduation rate among the four major sports. (Courtesy NCAA)

The graduation rate includes all student-athletes who complete their undergraduate degree within six years of enrollment. Unlike the U.S. Federal Report, it includes students who transfer between institutions, as well as mid-year enrollees.

By the Numbers

For the 2020 school year, Men’s Ice Hockey had a graduation rate of 93.3%. Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (the top teams) had a graduation rate of 81%, while the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision trailed at 80.1%. Basketball players graduated at an 86.8% rate, while Baseball had a graduation rate of 86.9%.

Related: Should NHL Teams Start Being Worried About The “NCAA Factor?”

Among all Division I men’s sports, ice hockey ranked third, behind skiing (93.8%) and tennis (93.7%). The list of sports also includes cross country/track (84%), fencing (86.5%), golf (91.7%), gymnastics (92.3%), lacrosse (91.9%), rifle (93.2%), soccer (87.1%), swimming (91%), volleyball (89.4%), water Polo (85.5%), and wrestling (84.5%).

The Division I Men’s Ice Hockey 2020 graduation rate of 93.3% is actually a three-year low. The graduation rate in 2018 was 94.6% and in 2019 it was 95.8%. However, it should be noted that Division I Men’s Ice Hockey graduation rates since 2002 have been erratic:

NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Graduation Rates, 2002 – 2020

That’s a range from a low of 78.0% in 2002 to a high of 95.8% in 2019. The 19-year average is 85.9%, and the average over the past 10 years is 89.9%. When we look at the past five years, the average graduation rate for Division I Men’s Ice Hockey players is 92.1% – quite respectable when compared to the other major sports.

On the women’s side, Division I Ice Hockey produced a 100% graduation rate, the only perfect score for any Division I sport, men’s or women’s. Women’s Basketball had a graduation rate of 92.5% and Field Hockey posted a 97.9% graduation rate.

Presley Norby
University of Wisconsin forward Presley Norby. (Photo by David Stluka)

Since the NCAA started reporting on graduation rates in 2002, the overall percent had climbed from 74% to 90%; male student-athletes from 68% to 85%; female student-athletes from 85% to 94%.

Tremendous gains have been recorded for Black student-athletes, jumping from 56% in 2002 to the current 80%. Hispanic/Latino student-athletes have seen an increase during that period from 64% to 87%.

The NCAA report also includes graduation rate information in four-year blocks. The current group, graduating classes from 2017 through 2020, shows Men’s Ice Hockey holding steady at 92%. That ranks third among Division I Men’s sports, behind skiing (96%) and gymnastics (93%). Compared to the 2016-19 four-year rate, the 2017-19 graduation rate for other major Men’s sports increased slightly. 

Football Bowl Subdivision (79% to 80%), Football Championship Subdivision (77% to 78%), basketball (83% to 84%), and baseball (84% to 85%) all showed a one-percent gain. Of the Division I men’s sports listed above, all held steady or showed slight gains except for fencing (94% to 91%) and water polo (93% to 91%).

Women’s Division I ice hockey showed a one-percent bump from the 2016-19 reporting period to the 2017-20 period, from 97% to 98%. Four Women’s Division I sports showed a one- or two-percent drop from period to period: bowling (90% to 89%), gymnastics (97% to 95%), skiing (99% to 98%), and water polo (95% to 94%). Other sports remained steady or showed a one-percent improvement from the previous four-year period to the current period.

The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish: A Hockey Graduation Success Story

According to Dan Colleran, Director of Athletic Communications, men’s ice hockey players from the University of Notre Dame have a graduation rate of 100%. Among current professional hockey players finishing their degrees this semester are Cal Petersen (goalie, Los Angeles Kings), Dennis Gilbert (defenseman, Colorado Avalanche), and Andrew Oglevie (forward, Buffalo Sabres). 

Los Angeles Kings goalie Calvin Petersen
Los Angeles Kings goalie Calvin Petersen (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal)

A number of other NHL hockey players are currently working on completing their Notre Dame undergraduate degrees, but won’t finish this semester. (Notre Dame does not compete in Division I Women’s Ice Hockey.)

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