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Ohio State athletes graduating at higher rate than students

An increase in graduation rates among student-athletes helps make the argument that sports aren’t the only priority among students involved in the Ohio State Athletic Department.
According to information released from the national Collegiate Athletic Association, freshman student-athletes who came to OSU in 2005-2006 had a Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) of 81 percent. The FGR looks at full-time freshman who initially enrolled at OSU and graduated after no more than six years.
These numbers are up from the average FGR between 2002-2005, which was 73 percent.
The student-athlete FGR is higher than the student body’s rate, which is 80 percent.
The four-class average of student-athletes from 2002-2005 had 85 percent in the Graduation Success Rate. The GSR includes all athletically-aided student-athletes, including transfers, but excludes those who leave OSU with remaining eligibility. These numbers are higher than the GSR national average, which is 80 percent.
OSU athletic director Gene Smith said in a Monday phone interview with The Lantern that he’s proud of the work staff and players have put in to raise the graduation rate because it’s one of the university’s top goals.  
“It says a lot about the work our athletes, our coaches, our faculty and everyone’s putting in to help our kids graduate,” he said. “It’s one of the things that is so important to us and is my highest priority.”
Smith said the university aims to have student-athlete academic performance on the same level as the rest of the student body.
“We’ve tried to make sure that our academic performance of our athletes stays on the same trajectory that our students stay on relative to graduation and academic performance,” he said. “I think we’re 1 percent ahead of our overall student body in graduation rates, so being able to do that says a lot about our faculty, and a lot about our curriculums here.”
Some students say the increased percentage in student-athlete graduation reflects positively on the entire university.
Cesar Santamaria, a fourth-year in history, said the increase is a great accomplishment for OSU as a whole, and shows that the university is actively involved in making it a top priority.
“These types of things are what make you proud to be a Buckeye,” Santamaria said. “The university is enforcing the academic side. They’re actually putting an emphasis on education and not just promoting the school through sports.”
The OSU football program showed steady increases over the past four measured classes (2002-2005). The GSR for the OSU football program is 74 percent, compared to 70 percent for all other Football Bowl Subdivisions (FBS) programs nationally.
Smith said football coach Urban Meyer is working to continue making graduation a top priority, much like former coach Jim Tressel did during his tenure at OSU.
“He’s really focused on it, and he wants to make sure that our football program graduation rate is consistent with our student body and overall student-athlete population,” Smith said. “Urban’s working really hard and I’m proud of those kids.”
Matt Ruffing, a third-year in accounting, said he thinks it’s important for student-athletes to commit to their studies and graduate because not all of them will have the opportunity to go on to the professional level.
“I think it’s really important because most athletes can’t go pro,” Ruffing said. “So they need to get a college degree to go out and get a better job.”
The OSU teams who have shown the biggest increases in GSR include men’s cross country/track, men’s gymnastics, men’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s gymnastics and women’s swimming.

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