The NCAA has released official federal graduation rate data, and Lobo student-athletes have once again achieved a passing grade.  New Mexico athletics graduated 50 percent of all student-athletes who enrolled as freshmen during the 2006-07 academic year.  The school also scored a 74 percent in the Graduation Success Rate, continuing UNM’s high scores in that criteria.

While the 50 percent mark is below the 60 percent grade of last year, which was the second-best mark in school history, the score represents a slightly higher graduating percentage than the university as a whole, which was 46 percent.  

While the university’s graduation rate has remained steady over the past eight years at a range of 41-46 percent (with this year’s 46 percent marking the best), the athletic department has seen continual growth in the percentage of student-athletes that have graduated.  Back in 2006, which contained data for freshmen enrolled in the 1999-2000 academic year, the athletic department’s rate was 37 percent.
That year, Paul Krebs became the university’s Vice President for Athletics, and made graduation and academics one of the department’s top priorities.  Since then, over the last seven years, the university has never had less than a 50 percent graduation rate for a class. 
That was also the year of several coaching changes in the department, including men’s basketball (Steve Alford), baseball (Ray Birmingham), skiing (Fredrik Landstedt), track & field/cross country (Joe Franklin), volleyball (Jeff Nelson) and softball (Ty Singleton).  Those coaching changes came with plenty of attrition from those programs as students left the programs.  Despite many of those students transferring to other schools in good academic standing, the federal graduation rate does not factor that in.
However, the NCAA also released the Graduation Success Rate or GSR, which does factor those instances in.  The GSR, along with the Academic Progress Rate, or APR, were a part of former NCAA President Myles Brand’s initiative to raise the academic standards and profiles for Division I institutions.
The 74 percent GSR factors in transfer students (those transferring in to UNM as well as those transferring out).  The 74 percent in the fourth straight year that the university has scored a 74 percent or better, as the the school scored a 76 percent in 2010, 74 percent in 2011 and 75 percent in 2012.
The department has seen a solid rise in the GSR since it was instituted in 2006. UNM scored a 58 percent in that first year.
“We knew because of the high number of coaching changes in 2007, that it would impact our federal graduation rate because we had a lot of movement of student-athletes in that year,” said Paul Krebs.  “I think that the commitment to the academic success of our student-athlete really shows in the NCAA Graduation Success Rate, which has continued to stay at a very high rate over the last four years particularly.
“While we are disappointed in the slight drop of the federal graduation rate, we understand the reasons for it.  We will always have a high expectation academically of our coaches and our student-athletes, and we will always strive for improvement. Henry Villegas and his staff at the Student-Success Center, which is one of the finest in the country, have really made a difference in the successes of our student-athletes.”
Notes:  Women’s basketball had a perfect GSR of 100 percent for the fourth consecutive year … UNM’s female student-athletes for the 2006-07 freshmen class had a GSR of 84 percent, while the male student-athletes had a score of 65 percent, just off of last year’s record of 66 percent…baseball set a program high with a 73 percent… football’s 58 percent was its second-best all-time mark (61 percent last year).