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.
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%.
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:
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.
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).
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.)
Pete Bauer is both a hockey fan and player. As a columnist for The Hockey Writers.com, he covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, NCAA hockey, and NHL trends, statistics, and history. He’s considered the go-to guy for info on the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NHL Players’ Association and other hockey-related legal mumbo-jumbo. He’s a frequent guest on a variety of podcasts. You’ll find all of his THW columns here. Pete is also the author of over a dozen books on photography, digital imaging, and graphics, including “Photoshop CC for Dummies.”