The NCAA's newest statistics on graduation rates, for college athletes who enrolled in 2003, show USF's football scores to be among the lowest out of the 120 current Division I-A programs.
The NCAA's Graduation Success Rate scores show USF football with a graduation rate of 46 percent — of the 66 schools now in the six major conferences with automatic BCS bids in football, only Oklahoma posted a lower score. USF's score is the lowest of the Big East's eight football programs by a full 17 percentage points, and the Bulls are tied for the third-lowest score among Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly called Division I-A), ahead of only Oklahoma (44) and San Jose State (42).
The NCAA's new statistics are essentially three years old — they measure the success of athletes who enrolled in 2003, while most of USF's current seniors started school in 2006 or 2007. USF has ramped up its academic support efforts in recent years, including an ambitious program this year to give every student-athlete a laptop computer to help with their coursework.
"The GSR represents only one entering class, in this case, from the 2003-04 academic year," USF athletic director Doug Woolard said in a statement. "We have been very encouraged with our student athletes' recent increase in academic achievement. During the 2009-10 academic year, our 465 student athletes combined to produce an outstanding cumulative 3.0 GPA with 62 individuals earning a perfect 4.0 GPA. Success in the classroom is most important to us, and through cutting-edge programs like our MacBook initiative, we expect to build on that success moving forward."
USF did not enter the Big East until 2005, two years after the students in these graduation rates started college; USF's football score was still lower than any program in Conference USA, which was the Bulls' conference from 2003-04 in football.
USF's basketball scores were also among the lowest in the Big East — men's basketball scored at 50 percent, tying for the second lowest among the 16 Big East programs (only Connecticut was lower); women's basketball had a strong graduation rate at 80 percent, but even that mark ranks as the third lowest of 16 Big East programs, ahead of only West Virginia (70) and Providence (67).
The highest graduation scores from USF came from the men's and women's golf programs, which both graduated 100 percent; women's soccer (96 percent) and softball (94) were close behind. Women's tennis (83) and women's track (82) were the only other programs graduating better than 80 percent of its scholarship athletes.