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2017 NCAA Division-I Baseball

Since 2013, D-I Baseball graduation gaps still show no sign of improvement

Columbia, SC — September 25, 2017…The College Sport Research Institute (CSRI), at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, released its sixthannual NCAA Division-I Baseball Adjusted Graduation Gap (AGG) report today. This report provides an overview of the AGGs of Division-I baseball players as well as a six-year longitudinal view of “All AGGs” for Division-I conferences subdivided into “Power-5” and “Mid-Major” categories.

CSRI Research Team Statement

The College Sport Research Institute’s Adjusted Graduation Gap (AGG) analysis of NCAA Division-I baseball graduation rates reveals that despite a slight improvement over the past few years, baseball players do not graduate at rates comparable to other full-time, male students.

Study Highlights

(For Overall Results see tables and charts in Appendix.)

  • The average baseball AGG for all DI conferences is -18.0, indicating baseball players graduate at a rate 18 percentage points below other full-time male students.
  • The Power-5 (Major) conference baseball AGG is -33.4, much larger than adjusted graduation gap of -14.9 for the 25 D-I (Mid Major) conferences.
  • Among Non-Power-5 (Mid Major) conferences, the SWAC graduates baseball players at a higher rate than full-time male students (+3.9). The Northeast has the next smallest graduation gap (-0.7), while the Mountain West (-38.7) and the American (-33.1) have the largest gaps.
  • Among Major conferences, the smallest baseball AGG is the Big Ten (-23.3) and the largest is the PAC-12 (-38.3).
  • The overall-D-I baseball AGG of -18.0, while sizeable, is dwarfed by the overall D-I men’s basketball AGG of -23.7 ( Basketball-AGG-Report.pdf).
  • Power-5 conferences’ baseball AGG (-33.4) is similar to the 2017 Power-5 men’s basketball AGG (-34.5).
  • Overall, baseball AGG trends have been essentially flat since the initial 2011 report.
  • The Major conference baseball AGG has remained essentially unchanged for the last 4 years at about -33.

Notes: See table and chart in Appendix for overall results. Too few schools report Black baseball player FGRs to allow ethnic breakdowns for baseball.

CSRI Position on Graduation Rates

In 1990, Congress mandated full disclosure of graduation rates at schools that award 3 athletically related aid and receive federal financial aid. The Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) reflects the percentage of students (athletes and non-athletes) who graduate within six years from the school where they initially enrolled as a full-time student. The FGR measures the extent to which colleges and universities retain and graduate recruited athletes, thus providing one measure of whether they are fulfilling the NCAA’s mission of maintaining athletes as an integral part of their student body. The strength of the FGR is its focus on student retention.

Another useful graduation rate measure, created by the NCAA to track athletes, is called the Graduation Success Rate (GSR). The GSR excludes from its calculation athletes — including transfers — who leave a particular school prior to graduating (i.e., early), while in good academic standing. The NCAA methodology also includes athletes who transfer into an institution in a program’s GSR. The GSR recognizes college athletes may take a different path to graduation than other full-time students. However, a limitation of the GSR is that currently no comparable “graduation” rate exists for the general student body. In other words, the GSR and FGR measures are not comparable.

The AGG was developed to partly address FGR and GSR limitations. The AGG compares an adjusted FGR for full-time students and the reported FGR for college athletes for the following NCAA Division-I sports: FBS football, D-I men’s & women’s basketball, D-I softball, and baseball. Reports for each sport are released at various times during the year.

The College Sport Research Institute believes in the full disclosure of all measures pertaining to college athlete graduation, including the FGR, GSR, and AGG since one measure is not “better” or somehow “fairer” than the others as each measures different things. The FGR focuses on an institution’s ability to retain and graduate students it admits, while the GSR attempts to account for athletes who leave a school that initially admitted them.

Historically, standard evaluations of NCAA athlete graduation rates have involved comparisons with general student body rates presumed to pertain to full-time students. However, many schools’ general student body rates include a significant number of part- 4 time students. This is problematic because all NCAA athletes must be “full-time” and should therefore be compared with other full-time students. The downward “part-timer bias” in the student-body FGR distorts this comparison. Because part-time students take longer to graduate, this significantly reduces the measured general student-body FGR, making the relative rate of college athletes at many schools and conferences appear more favorable. CSRI’s Adjusted Graduation Gap methodology addresses this “part-timer bias” using regression-based adjustments for the percentage of part-time students enrolled at an institution. The adjustments also account for the aggregate influence of school-specific factors such as location and student demographics. These estimates then become the basis for the AGG comparison. 1

1 Technical details can be found in E. Woodrow Eckard, “NCAA Athlete Graduation Rates: Less than Meets the Eye,” Journal of Sport Management, January 2010, pp. 45-58.


Table 1:  2016–17 NCAA Division-I Adjusted Graduation Gaps

Conference 2017 AGG Type
Big Ten -23.3 Power-5
Big 12 -31.8 Power-5
Southeastern -36.7 Power-5
Atlantic Coast -36.9 Power-5
PAC-12 -38.3 Power-5
Average Power-5 AGG -33.4  
SWAC +3.9 Mid-Major (MM)
Northeast -0.7 MM
Patriot -1.3 MM
Mid-Eastern -1.5 MM
Horizon -2.4 MM
Ohio Valley -6.1 MM
Mid-American -9.8 MM
Metro Atlantic -10.6 MM
Big South -12.1 MM
Summit -13.3 MM
Conference 2017 AGG Type
Southland -13.8 MM
Sun Belt -14.0 MM
Big East -14.2 MM
WAC -14.6 MM
Southern -14.7 MM
Colonial Athletic -15.7 MM
Conference-USA -16.6 MM
Atlantic 10 -18.8 MM
America East -20.5 MM
Missouri Valley -22.5 MM
Atlantic Sun -23.1 MM
West Coast -27.6 MM
Big West -30.5 MM
American -33.1 MM
Mountain West -38.7 MM
Average MM AGG -18.0  

Chart 1: Year-by--Year Trend-Lines: All DI, “Power-5” and “Mid-Major” AGGs

Chart 1: Year-by-Year Trend-Lines: All DI, “Power-5” and “Mid-Major” AGGs — All DI begins in 2011 at approximately -19.0, maintains that through 2012, rises slightly to -18.0, sinks again to -19.0, sinks again to -20.0 in 2015, and then rises until 2017 where it lands at approximately -18.0. Power-5 begins at -34.0 in 2011, sinks slightly in 2012, rises to -31.0 in 2013, then sinks again to -34.0 in 2015 and maintains that until 2017. Mid-major trends begin in 2011 at approximately -16.0 which is maintained until 2013 when it rises slightly to -15.0, sinks again to approximately -16.0 in 2014, sinks again in 2015 to -17.0, then begins to rise where it lands at -15.0 in 2017.

* There was no reported AGG for Baseball in 2016, and as such, the data for 2016 should not be viewed as accurate. The AGG was interpolated to conform with Microsoft Excel calculations.

About CSRI

The College Sport Research Institute (CSRI) is housed within the Sport and Entertainment Management Department at the University of South Carolina – Columbia. CSRI is dedicated to conducting and supporting independent data collection and analysis related to collegesport issues.

Along with conducting and disseminating in-house research, CSRI holds the annual Conference on College Sport in Columbia, SC. This conference provides college-sport scholars and intercollegiate athletics practitioners a forum to present research related to current college-sport issues and discuss possible solutions to these challenges. CSRI also publishes a peer-reviewed scholarly journal entitled: Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics (JIIA), which provides an outlet for research related to college-sport issues.

This is the sixth installment of the CSRI’s Adjusted Graduation Gap (AGG) Baseball Report. We hope this report encourages continuing research and discussion regarding college athlete graduation rates, as well as creates a focus on the quality and type of educational opportunities offered to college athletes.

CSRI Research Team & Co-authors

  • Dr. Richard M. Southall, CSRI director; professor, Department of Sport and Entertainment Management, University of South Carolina
  • Dr. E. Woodrow Eckard, CSRI research associate; professor of economics emeritus, Business School, University of Colorado – Denver
  • Dr. Mark S. Nagel, CSRI associate director; professor, Department of Sport and Entertainment Management, University of South Carolina
  • Mr. Victor Kidd, 3rd year Ph.D. student, Department of Sport and Entertainment Management, University of South Carolina
  • Mr. Tim Koba,  2nd year Ph.D. student, Department of Sport and Entertainment Management, University of South Carolina

Media Contacts

  • Richard M. Southall, Ed.D., Director
    College Sport Research Institute
    University of South Carolina
    (901) 240-7197 (cell)
  • Mark S. Nagel, Ed.D., Associate Director
    College Sport Research Institute
    University of South Carolina
    (770) 891-9714 (cell)
  • Allen Wallace, Communications Manager
    College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management
    University of South Carolina
    (803) 777-5667 (office)

Twitter: @csrisouthall; @csriconference

Phone: 803-777-0658 / 803-777-5550


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