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AMES, Iowa – Iowa State student-athletes recorded a higher graduation rate than the institution’s undergraduates for the first time in seven years and only the fourth time in school history. According to 2006 federal government figures (which are based upon the entering class of 1999-00), Iowa State student-athletes had a graduation rate of 70%. The undergraduate rate was 68%. The other seasons that student-athletes outperformed undergrads at ISU were 2000, 1997 and 1993.

“Our most fundamental goal in the athletics department is to educate our student-athletes,” Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. “In the department’s strategic plan, one of our 10 goals is to ‘graduate student-athletes at a higher percentage rate than the undergraduate student body.’ We achieved that significant goal for only the fourth time in school history.”

The 70% rate – highest in school history – was largely fueled by an improvement in the academic performance of male student-athletes. The men’s graduation mark (based upon freshmen only) jumped from 24 to 41% from 2005 to 2006. Of the specific sports monitored by the NCAA, football had the largest one-year jump from 43 to 65%.

Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said the fact that student-athletes outperformed undergrads was impressive, but the work is not done.

“Iowa State University and our athletics department continue to emphasize the importance of earning a degree, starting with the recruitment of academically motivated student-athletes,” Pollard said. “We continue to invest in our student-athletes’ academic future with initiatives like the construction of the Rod & Connie French Student-Athlete Academic Center. It’s fundamental that we provide the facilities and staffing required for Cyclones to achieve their academic dreams.”

Iowa State’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR), a new academic measure created by the NCAA last year, also improved from 68 to 69%. The GSR is a tool that records academic success over the long term and the data it includes goes back 10 years.

“The credit goes to the young men and women in our program who have demonstrated the ability to handle the demands of being a successful student at one of the world’s leading academic centers while, at the same time, pursuing an intercollegiate athletics experience,” Pollard said. “That is a tough balancing act and I salute their efforts and achievements.”