FAYETTEVILLE Cumulative graduation rates for athletes topped 70 percent at the four largest Arkansas universities and six overall in the latest NCAA report released Thursday.
Athletes who enrolled between 2002-05 at the University of Arkansas' Fayetteville campus had a graduation rate of 72 percent, while athletes at Arkansas State University had a 71 percent graduation rate during the same span. The UA rate was down 1 percentage point from the last reporting period, while the ASU rate was down 6 percentage points.
It is the sixth straight year ASU has reported athlete graduation rates at greater than 70 percent and the fourth straight year at the UA.
Arkansas-Little Rock had the highest cumulative graduation rate (76 percent) among NCAA classified Division-I universities in the state. The University of Central Arkansas had the second-highest rate (75 percent), while the Arkansas-Pine Bluff had the lowest (59 percent).
The national four-year average for Division-I schools is 80 percent. The Division-II national average is 72 percent.
Among Division-II schools in the state, Harding had its highest graduation rate ever for athletes (80 percent), while Ouachita Baptist was second (71 percent). Other rates for in-state schools included: Arkansas Tech (56), Henderson State (53), Southern Arkansas (47) and Arkansas-Monticello (40).
A report wasn't available for Arkansas-Fort Smith, which didn't reach NCAA Division-II status until 2011.
Graduation rates in Division-I football and men's basketball are both above 70 percent for the first time ever, according to the NCAA. Overall, graduation rates for athletes beginning school in 2005 are 7 percentage points higher than those entering college in 1995.
The graduation rate in men's basketball is up 18 percentage points and football up 7 percent over the first set of data collected 11 years ago. The greatest increase in graduation rates are among black males, according to the NCAA, who are graduating at a 21 percent higher rate in basketball and 9 percent increase in football over that time.