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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pro/Con: Do graduation rates matter?

    Pro: Numbers skewed but graduating matters:

    The term “”student-athlete”” is spelled out in a certain order: Student first, then athlete. But what you see and what you get are often times two completely different things.

    The most recent Division I graduation rate report card came in Tuesday and the UA football and men’s basketball teams are not in good shape. Both programs ranked dead last in the Pacific 10 Conference in the latest report, which measures the percentage of students who enrolled at the UA between 1998 and 2001 and graduated within six years.

    The Wildcat football team has matched last year’s percentage of people – 41 percent – who graduated from the UA within six years. This is the fourth year the UA football team has been in the Pac-10 cellar.

    As a nation, the amount of scholarship athletes graduating has gone up slightly. But that doesn’t do anything for Tucson. For the school, leaving early -ÿwhether it be to go pro or just not graduating – could mean a cut in scholarships for future Wildcats.

    Three scholarships were taken away from this fall’s football class because of the results of the Academic Progress Rate released last May.

    Twenty percent of the UA men’s basketball players who enrolled between 1998 and 2001 graduated from the UA within the next six years – down five percent from last year’s report.

    Of course there are UA athletes – especially hoopsters – who go to the pro ranks early. And yes, that does skew the numbers quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean further schooling doesn’t matter.

    Though he had to go back to school eight years after he was drafted into the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal still got his degree. But the initial years he spent at LSU were valuable for him.

    “”I could have come out after my sophomore year but I wasn’t really ready,”” he said in McKale Center earlier this month. “”I took a couple business courses, talked to some people and was ready after my junior year.””

    But he still graduated.

    Bryan Roy

    Con: Numbers are only a media-driven hype

    If someone were to offer you a life-altering sum of money that would ensure your future profession or major, you would be a complete idiot to let something like that pass.

    College athletes have worked diligently their entire lives with one goal in mind: become a professional – the title that you and I both strive to become, regardless of what field we choose.

    Elite-level athletes work a hundred times harder than the typical Arizona student, so why should a diploma judge the success of an athletics program?

    The NCAA released the graduation report on Tuesday, which – once againÿ- knocked the football and men’s basketball programs as the Pacific 10 Conference cellar dwellers. But the media and fans love to indulge rankings and lists, and these are easily the most overrated – since the NCAA penalizes student-athletes who leave to turn professional.

    Former UA basketball assistant coach Josh Pastner said it best in an interview last fall, when Arizona finished last in the Pac-10 Conference in the Academic Progress Rate.

    “”For the elite-level kid, basketball is everything,”” Pastner said. “”Why do you think Mike Bibby came here? He came here to get ready for his chosen profession.””

    So if Mike Bibby can make a successful career out of his reason for choosing Arizona, where’s the failure in that?

    Point Guard U has certainly produced a bevy of successful players in the past decade.

    “”Make Gilbert Arenas stay four years – I want to hear how they’re going to do that,”” said Jim Rosborough, UA associate head coach, in an interview last fall.

    Today, Arenas has 111 million reasons why his choice to enter the NBA was worthwhile.

    Ask Andre Iguodala how his decision worked out. Or Richard Jefferson, who will have a building named after him shortly after completion here on campus. Or Jerryd Bayless. The list goes on.

    Then there’s the argument: not all of Arizona’s athletes go professional.

    Granted, that’s true. But to be last in the Pac-10 Conference is irrelevant – it’s the only conference that can put a genius school like Stanford and not-so-genius school like ASU in the same sentence.

    Not only is the data skewed, but the NCAA does not take into consideration the athletes who returned to school outside of the six-year period. They do, however, penalize the players who transfered from the football team when the program endured four head coaches in five years.

    Just let the kids play.

    Brian Kimball

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