UK Athletics Again Posts Record Graduation Rates

Students at UK commencement | UK photo.
Students at UK commencement | UK photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 18, 2019) — The steady progression of academic achievement for the University of Kentucky Athletics Department continues. Wildcat student-athletes broke one graduation rate school record and tied another in an annual report released Wednesday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

“Our student-athletes make us proud in the way they pursue an education and a degree at our world-class institution while competing at the highest level of college athletics,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “It is our responsibility to equip them with the resources they need to do that. I am thankful for the commitment our student-athletes make to academics and the support our coaches, staff, and CATS counselors and tutors provide along their path.”

UK’s NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR), a four-year composite statistic for the freshman classes of 2009-10 through 2012-13, was 91%. That tops the previous school record of 88% set last season, continuing UK Athletics’ streak of breaking or tying the mark every year since the NCAA began tracking the statistic in 2005.

“These outstanding graduation rates highlight a foundational component of the Kentucky student-athlete experience, and serve as evidence of our commitment to comprehensive excellence,” Executive Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Experience Jason Cummins said. “Our students learn from a world-class faculty in the pursuit of life-changing knowledge, one of our department’s five core values.” 

The GSR includes all scholarship student-athletes who are on scholarship their first semester of enrollment. Athletes who transfer or depart for the professional ranks in good standing do not count against the school's GSR. Schools also are allowed to count incoming transfers and January enrollees who subsequently graduate toward the GSR.

Here are UK Athletics’ GSR scores in the 15-year history of the measure.

Year                     NCAA GSR %

2019                     91%

2018                     88

2017                     85

2016                     82

2015                     81

2014                     81

2013                     79

2012                     79

2011                     77

2010                     74

2009                     73

2008                     73

2007                     71 

2006                     71 

2005                     65 

The Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) is also a four-year composite statistic for freshman classes from 2009-10 through 2012-13. UK’s latest FGR mark is 61%, tying the previous record set last season. Data for this statistic is available since 1991.

In the FGR, student-athletes who transfer or depart early for the professional ranks count as non-graduates, regardless of their academic standing or subsequent graduation from another institution. Incoming transfer students, from junior college or four-year schools, who graduate at UK are not counted as graduates. These factors account for the difference between the FGR and the NCAA GSR.

With those record graduation rates, 99 Wildcats walked across the stage and received diplomas during the 2018-19 academic year alone, including 49 who graduated with honors. UK student-athletes are also receiving high marks in the classroom combining to surpass the department’s goal of a 3.0 grade-point average in 14 consecutive semesters.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.