Student Athletes:

Information on Their Academic Performance

HRD-89-107FS: Published: May 17, 1989. Publicly Released: May 17, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information concerning student athletes' academic performance in connection with proposed legislation that would require postsecondary institutions receiving federal assistance and offering athletic scholarships to report student athletes' graduation rates and fields of study compared to similar information for their entire student bodies.

GAO found that: (1) the proposed legislation would provide means to make student athletes more aware of the commitment of postsecondary institutions to academics; (2) the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) compiled graduation rates for athletes and all students at its largest member schools and the Department of Education compiled numbers of students receiving degrees by field of study, but the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) did not collect any information; and (3) NCAA and NAIA planned to collect and publish some of the required data. GAO also found that: (1) NAIA and NCAA policies differed regarding recruiting, athletic eligibility, academic progress, financial aid after athletic eligibility ended, and drug testing; (2) in 1989, NAIA will require that freshman student athletes meet two of three criteria, including minimum test scores or high school class standing; and (3) NCAA criteria included the NAIA requirements and a minimum grade point average in 11 specific high school courses. In addition, GAO found that: (1) student athletes at the 287 largest NCAA schools had higher graduation rates than the average for all students at the schools; (2) athletes had higher graduation rates at the majority of schools than those for all students, with the exception of the majority of the largest schools; and (3) NCAA graduation rates for such revenue-producing sports as men's basketball and football were less than those for all other student athletes.

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