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36th NACDA Convention
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 10-13, 2001

NCAA Division II Breakout Session
Five-Year Eligibility - Retention and Graduation Rates
Monday, June 11, 9:45 - 10:45 a.m.
Roger Maisner

Good morning. My name is Roger Maisner and I am the director of athletics at Mansfield University and a member of your NACDA Executive Committee. I want to thank Southwest Recreational Industries for being our audio-visual sponsor today. Our session is entitled Five-Year Eligibility and Retention in Graduation Rates. Our panel members are Bob Carlson, a member of the Division II Athletics Directors Association and the director of athletics at Clarion University; and Jim Fallis. Jim is also a member of the Division II Athletics Directors Association and the director of athletics at the University of Northern Colorado and a member of NACDA's Executive Committee. Please welcome Bob Carlson.

Bob Carlson

Thank you. I hope there are all friendly faces out there. Some of you have probably heard this presentation before. It started a few years ago, when Boise State in Division I had a similar proposal. It died on the floor at Division I. I was doing some extra interviews and one of the things that came out was that there are a few sports where the five-year participation rule would really help. Mainly, it's football and basketball. There are some other programs at each institution that may benefit from this. Some of our programs wouldn't be affected too much because the students are going to get their degrees. Our swimmers graduate in four years. I ask a lot of them in their interviews if they had a fifth year of eligibility, would they stay? Some of them answered, yes, if they were working on a master's. Some said, no, they want to get right into their teaching profession.

There are some programs that it has affected and we're not doing justice to our student-athletes. A lot of us in Division II programs, once the student-athlete has used up their eligibility, there were no funds available to help them finish their degrees. We have some at Clarion who are a semester or a few credits short and dropped out of school to get a job. Unfortunately, they never came back.

When I started bringing this up to our colleagues at the Division II ADs Association, we thought about going to the five-year eligibility rule, which would enhance the welfare of the student-athlete. It does gives us the opportunity to provide aid for those student-athletes during their whole term at the university. Jim Fallis is going to give us some figures on exactly what has happened across the country with graduation rates. I think you'll be surprised to see what's happened since 1966 on most of our college campuses. It's a welfare issue. I feel very strongly about this. I think it will benefit the athletes and I think it's going to benefit us too. We can do away with Bylaw 142.4, the criteria for determining seasons of eligibility. We can do away with the hardship waivers. We can do away with the seasons of competition waivers. It's going to eliminate a lot of paperwork for us. For those of you that haven't picked up a handout, there are some in the room. Basically, the same ones that we had last spring.

This will eliminate the work for the NCAA Appeals Committee, the seasons of competition waivers, the waivers of the 10-semester rule, the hardship waivers for independent institutions that they have to apply for will be gone. I'm on the PSAC Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania State Conference. We just had our conference meetings about a month ago, and we had about 2 inches of paperwork to determine hardships for student-athletes. I noticed that our institutions are finding more ways to be creative in coming up with hardships. Now, you're dealing with things that have a fine line between someone who had some stress problems, you name it. It's not like it used to be. You had to break your leg and we knew you were going to get an extra year of eligibility. Now, there are so many other instances. Depression has come up, when you're arguing with a doctor about a student-athlete being clinically depressed and they deserve that extra year. Hell, I think every kid that has had any kind of stress in college has gone through bouts of depression along with a lot of ADs too. It's getting harder to determine what is a hardship.

We can just eliminate all of that if we went to the five-year eligibility rule. It would give them the 10 semesters from the time they come in, they would get their scholarship. I know there is a lot of pro and con out there. In the best interest of the athlete, it would provide the opportunity to finish their degrees, which is the most important. At our place in education, it used to be 129 credits to graduate in education. Starting next year, it will be 152 credits. You've got to average about 19 credits a semester during your term and then try to participate in varsity athletics to get a degree in four years. Our illustrious governor in Pennsylvania thinks that is going to happen. He's a damn fool because it's not going to happen. Kids can't carry 19 credits on a consistent basis and graduate in four years. That's if everything goes perfectly, if all of their classes are in order, they don't have any problems during their tenure, they catch all of their classes in the right order and their classes aren't filled. With our faculty, they all want to teach from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and they're gone for the rest of the day. They expect these student-athletes to pick up all of these classes during this block of time. I see a lot of smiles on your faces because we've all dealt with that.

The five-year thing just makes it a little more possible for more student-athletes to have the success towards the degree. The paperwork this will eliminate with the red shirts and hardships would be a tremendous relief for all of us. The student-athlete and the athletics administration would not have to monitor the competition during the nontraditional seasons. If a student-athlete is a freshman coming in and your star quarterback, in a lot of our situations, were very thin. We may have a senior and a freshman. If the senior goes down in the seventh game of the year in football, now we're in trouble. If we use that student-athlete to play those three games, he loses a year of eligibility. On the other hand, if we have the five-year rule in and the senior student-athlete goes down, the freshman could jump in and get some playing time. Even if he didn't break into the starting line-up, there's a good chance he could be used in some back-up roles. It doesn't jeopardize the student-athlete, it gives them a chance to get their feet wet. That's why they are all here. Those kids aren't coming to school to register. When you recruit these state champions and all of these kids who have all the hoopla behind them, they're all ready to come in and show their mark. Obviously, a lot of them aren't ready, but this will help them get ready. It doesn't throw them into the fire too much.

I believe that the graduation rates would improve immensely. There are a lot of statistics that can prove that. The average graduation rate, based on the last figures that we got from the Division I study, tells us that it takes 4.8 years to graduate. So, let's give them the fifth year of eligibility. I believe it will help our students. I believe this strongly. Hopefully, a lot of those kids on the bubble will not drop out of school and complete their degrees because we're able to give them aid to finish up. At the present time, we can't give them aid once their eligibility is done. That fifth year leaves us in a bad situation.

If the student-athlete graduates in four years, this is the part I really like, in our modern day, the BS or the BA degree is not enough. Most of these kids have to go on to get an extra degree. It will give that opportunity for those student-athletes to start a graduate program if they stay at the same institution. Nothing on here is in concrete. Everything is adjustable. I do believe that for the student-athlete that wants to stay on and work on a master's degree, you're able to help them with their schooling. They can get that degree to prepare them even better when they get out into the workforce. It does give them the opportunity to stay at your school and work on a master's program.

One of the things we did discuss is, what happens if a kid finishes his four years of eligibility at your place? Can they transfer to another school and finish their fifth year in a master's program and compete that fifth year? Reaction to that was no, but everything in here is negotiable. The intent was to help our student-athletes graduate at our institutions and keep them there if they so desire to work on a master's program. If your school wouldn't offer that opportunity, the way this is set up, they would be free to work on their education wherever they want and not participate.

I don't think these are going to be immediate impact things. It's going to take some time. Number one, I don't think there's going to be an increase in recruiting costs as someone tried to explain to me. You're going to recruit less. You're not going to be out battling quite as hard. It's going to spread the talent out over more schools. One of the concerns that somebody mentioned is about softball. Now, we have five pitchers for four years. If we go to five years, you're only going to need four pitchers. Well, so be it. You may still try to hog all of the talent to their institutions. If they can get 10 pitchers, they're going to do it. They may only play one game instead of 12, but they're going to continue to try to hoard in their recruiting. I can name some experiences in my past as a wrestling coach where the talent all flocks to one certain area. It hasn't changed. It's been 35 years and they're still the dominant programs in wrestling. They're still going to continue to get not only the top athletes, but a lot of them because the kids want to go there and compete. Some of that I don't know if we can away from.

There is no intention of increasing the number of dollars we currently spend. That's important to understand. If we currently have 10 basketball scholarships, there's no intent in this legislation to increase it to 11 or 12 or do anything else. We stay with our same numbers; we just spread them out. That's important for people to know from the get-go.

Other people are considering looking into this legislation right now. Division III has been talking about it. The NAIA has a panel set up here to discuss this further. I've had several Division I athletics directors, two from very big institutions, who are watching this closely and hoping that Division II can pull this off. I would suspect that you will see a push for Division I to bring this up again. One of my issues is, what sets us aside from Division I? Right now, we try to follow in their footsteps. This is a chance for us to take the lead and really do something that will benefit the Division II student-athletes. We can't prevent what Division I may or may not do down the line, but right now, this gives us a chance to be the leader and go ahead and implement this five-year rule.

I know there are things regarding partial qualifiers and what would happen with them. Our intent would be that they would still get four years of eligibility. The same would apply with the non-qualifier, if they completed that first year of residency. The student-athlete who transfers from a Division I school after completing their eligibility could not transfer to a Division II school and complete a fifth year of eligibility. That was to keep schools from transferring, etc. A 2-4 transfer who meets Bylaw 145.2 for qualifiers or Bylaw 145.22 for partial or non-qualifiers and participates in two seasons of competition at the community college would be eligible to participate in three seasons of competition at your institution. They would get the five years, providing they meet the necessary transfer bylaws.

As most of you know, not many of us are giving full rides. At Clarion, we have a Division I wrestling program. Our total of full scholarship is 11 and most of those are on the women's side. Of the 180 scholarships we give, the rest are partials. I think that holds true for most of our schools.

If things were great and everybody was finishing up in four years, I wouldn't have thought about this, but I know there are a lot of statistics that see where the trends are going and I'd like to ask Jim Fallis to come up. He has put some figures together.

Jim Fallis

Let me start by apologizing. I thought we were going to have an overhead projector and that is basically what my presentation is. If you're interested in some of the information we have and the statistics, I can send it to you; just give me your card. I went to our institutional research department and worked with them. They get information from a group called the CSRDE. There are more than 260 institutions that are part of that. It's a consortium of universities that provide retention and graduation rate information and show the trends in U.S. universities related to the same. CSRDE is made up of private, public, large, small, highly selective and liberal admissions standards and institutions. They have both doctoral and baccalaureate programs. The group consists of 203 public schools and 66 private schools. Twenty percent of the sampling are NCAA Division II institutions and I've got the listing here. You can check this list to look yourself up.

They've been doing this for a number of years. The findings they have are summarized. First is on retention. Everything I'm going to reference is to this consortium of these 269 institutions. They found that the freshman dropout rate was 21 percent. This is on the '92 incoming freshman class. One out of every five will drop out. In the second year, the dropout rate was 11 percent, one out of every 10 that's left is going to drop out. In the third year and beyond, the dropout rate was nine percent. Over a six-year period, the average dropout rate was 41 percent. You can go to your institutional research people and find out what your dropout rates are and you'll find they are not much different.

Time to complete a degree has increased for most. In 1966, 50 percent of the freshmen obtained their BS and BA degree in four years. In 1982, that number dropped to 33 percent. In 1992, that number had dropped to 27 percent. Four different groupings of institutions, highly selective institutions, selective institutions, moderately selective institutions and less selective institutions. This isn't all student-athletes, this is all students. It's rather interesting what's happened in the last 40 years.

Students attending private schools graduate at a higher rate and they graduate earlier. Forty-two percent graduate in four years. Twenty-five percent graduate in four years from public schools.

Let me give you some information and statistics on graduation rates for first-time freshman that attended in 1992. There were 78 highly selective institutions and freshman coming in had ACTs of 24 or higher. They had SATs of 1,100 or higher. Again, this information is interesting. It breaks it down to female, male, white, American Indian, Hispanics and blacks. In 1992, at the highly selective institutions, those that graduated in four years was 37.8 percent of the students; 44.3 percent were female, 30 percent were males, 18.7 percent were American Indian, 22.3 percent were Hispanic and 21.6 percent were black. That is highly selective institutions.

For those '92 incoming students at these highly selective institutions, totally, 37.8 graduated in four years. It took another 29.4 percent five or six years to graduate. When we get our reports from the Federal Reporting Rates, we're looking at six-year graduation rates already. Those are not four-year graduation rates we're looking at. Those are six-year graduation rates. At a highly selective institution, 29.4 percent of the student body took five and six years to graduate. Only 37.8 percent graduated in four years.

When you look at the numbers for minority groupings, 18.7 percent of American Indians graduated in four years, 24.2 percent graduated in the fifth and sixth year, while 22.3 percent of the Hispanics graduated in four years and 36.1 percent graduated in the fifth and sixth year. Twenty-one point six percent of blacks graduated in four years and 29.4 percent graduated in the fifth and sixth year. You can see that the numbers are rather interesting even at a highly selective institution in terms of the number of the overall student body that graduates.

The second grouping is selective institutions. These are institutions that have ACTs of 22.5 to 24 or SATs of 1,045 to 1,100. Now, you begin to see, at these selective institutions that of the total that graduated in four years, it's 26.5 percent of those students entering in 1992, while 26.9 percent took five and six years to graduate. When you begin to look at the numbers for minorities, it gets even wider at those selective institutions.

American Indians have 11.3 percent graduate in four years and 16 percent graduate in five or six years. Hispanics have 18.9 percent graduate in four years and 25.6 percent graduate in the fifth and sixth year. Blacks have 11.8 percent graduate in four years and 25 percent graduate in the fifth and sixth year. The trends continue and they become more evident.

The next grouping is moderately selective. ACT scores of 21 to 22.4 for the incoming students at 75 institutions and SATs of 990 to 1,045. Those students that graduated in four years at those 75 institutions was 18.4 percent, with 26 percent taking five and six years to graduate. Again, the numbers just get wider. Those less selective institutions that accept freshmen with less than a 21 ACT or a less than 990 SAT, in 1992 had 11.1 percent graduate in four years. Twenty-four percent look five and six years to graduate.

One of the key reasons to have this proposal in front of us is because it's the student-athletes' welfare. What are we doing? Let's be honest. What are we doing to those students who do play the first four years? The most telling story rests in the fact that these figures represent the graduation rates of all students. I've heard our president, our governor, much like the one in Pennsylvania, say that we're going to start graduating kids in four years. We've been saying that for a number of years and it isn't changing. Our institution kept saying that we're going to increase our admissions standards. It didn't change under the old system, it only changed when the president finally said, "Now, we're going to set this as a standard." We created a higher standard. Our enrollment has gone down, but now we have higher admissions standards.

To say that you're going to have higher admission standards, to say that you're going to graduate students in four years and do the same thing, is ludicrous. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and thinking you're going to get a different result. That's exactly what is happening.

The fact that we're an association and have maintained a four-year eligibility program has not changed the basic fact that all students are taking longer to graduate. Not just student-athletes, all students are taking longer to graduate. This is another case of Division II being driven by the Division I philosophy. Keep in mind that in Division I, they have head-count sports, they have equivalency sports. Most of their student-athletes, in a greater number of sports, are full grant-in-aid awards. It's interesting to note that other associations have not limited their participation to four years. They are music, dance and theater.

I got an e-mail the other day and somebody said that because they are majoring in that area, they should have five or six years of eligibility or participation in those areas. Isn't it interesting that they are going to major in that area and they are getting credit for everything they do, all the practice they do in dance and theatre and they can't graduate in four years. Our student-athletes are expected to be full-time students in something totally different and expected to put in 20 hours a week and graduate in four years. If, by the way you don't, I hope you get a part-time job. We'll try to figure out something for you, but we do want you to graduate. We just can't help you financially as much as we have in the past.

I know at our institution, the average grant-in-aid is $1,750. Our tennis players get about a $500 scholarship. I can assure you that if I have a tennis player that's going to graduate in four years and can go out and make $25,000 to $30,000 per year, he will not come back to my institution for a fifth-year of eligibility for a whopping $500 grant-in-aid. Now, maybe you are fortunate to have your student-athletes on a full ride and it's a different issue, but I don't think so.

I would like to ask the Management Council to ask their research group to get us some information. What is the average grant-in-aid in Division II, how many hardships are we presenting to our conferences and to the national office on an annual basis and how many students does this impact? Most Division II grant-in-aids are not full ride in nature, therefore, many of our student-athletes now need to work to supplement their education. Providing athletics grant-in-aid an additional year and being required to be a full-time student will enhance the graduation rates in the fifth and sixth year.

I can tell you stories about individuals that completed their eligibility and were within 12 hours and never got back to getting their degree. If we give them a fifth year of eligibility and they have to be a full-time student until that last semester when they may not have to take 12 full hours, how many student-athletes are we going to help get that degree in a more expeditious fashion? The undetermined bonus in this is the number that will be able to graduate that might not otherwise. We don't have the seven-year figure. How many are taking seven or eight years? How many are simply not graduating? All we're reporting in that NCAA report now is that six-year graduation rate.

Those sports that red shirt on a regular basis provide grant-in-aid for five years. But, most sports do not red shirt and, thereby, we're discriminating internally against those student-athletes that stay healthy, that don't red shirt and that complete their eligibility in four years. How many of us can afford and are willing to give that student-athlete a fifth year of grant-in-aid as we would if they were injured in their first year and were red shirted? I've heard the issue of reduced participation. I don't know what it's like on your campus. I can tell you we're doing that already. We're doing roster management. We're reducing participation. We're basically cutting off the head and the tail in this process at our institution. What I'd like to see us do is at least service those individuals that have been there for four years. Those who have given four years, and have done all they possibly can and then when they finish their fourth year say, now I've got to find a part-time job to graduate in time. We have more and more situations on our campus.

We had a student-athlete this year that had a partial grant-in-aid. The student decided they were going to red shirt. The coach wasn't too thrilled about it, but went ahead and approved it. The student-athlete red shirted, got their grant-in-aid for this year, came in two weeks ago and said, "I'm transferring." We went ahead and provided the grant-in-aid, red shirted him, did all of those wonderful things for him and now they're leaving the institutions.

There is a retention issue. There's definitely a graduation issue. More importantly than that, it's a student-athlete issue. We ask these student-athletes to give of themselves for four years and if they were healthy in the process of doing that and did not red shirt, at the end we say we'll try to find them something. I certainly applaud the Management Council and the Presidents Council for their initiative in trying to provide financial aid for students to finish. I can tell you that at my institution, the student-athletes this year that were in their fourth year of receiving athletics grant-in-aid was more than $200,000 in athletics grant-in-aid and they were finishing up their fourth year. I don't think the NCAA has enough money to provide me that $200,000 for those students to come back to my institution next year. Two thousand, $5,000 isn't going to do it, but $200,000 will.

The legislation is not intended to increase grant-in-aid. The grant-in-aid numbers stay firm. As Bob referred to in basketball, 10 grant-in-aids, instead of spreading it out over four years, in a perfect world, you've got them evenly divided. You've got 2 grants in every year and every year, you're turning over 2 grants. Under this system, you'd be turning over two grants every year. If it was perfectly distributed and divided, it would be two every year. Recruiting would be reduced.

I would like to ask everybody, and I know there's opposition to this, but let's look at the pros and cons, take the next step and dialogue. Look at them openly, debate them. I would like to think we could move this forward, put a sunshine clause on it. After five or six years, review what the impact has been. I would be the first one to say that if we could come back here in six years and say the graduation rates have gone down, the retention rates have dropped, all we've done is put kids in competition for five years and there's been no enhancement to them or to the institution as a result, then throw it out the window. How many things have we tried and they've been good things? I feel this one of those that we should try.

Once again, I do have the names of the institutions. I have the book that has the information. You can look up your own institutions and see them documented. Again, I apologize for not having the overhead, but if you're interested in the material, I'd be happy to send it to you.