BERKELEY, Calif. – With bowl eligibility hanging by a thread ahead of Saturday’s critical game at Utah, the embattled California football program receiver more damning news Thursday, as NCAA measurements revealed it has the lowest graduation rates in the Pac-12.
Cal graduated just 48 percent of the freshmen that arrived on campus from 2002-05 as determined by the Graduation Success Rate, compared to 70 percent across FBS football nationally.
Using the Federal Graduation Rate, that total drops to 47 percent, third-worst among any sport on campus, ahead of only women’s softball and men’s basketball.
That comes after the latest Academic Progress Rate scores, released in June, showed a continued downward trend that could eventually result in loss of scholarships or even a postseason ban. And unlike the APR, the GSR does not punish schools if players transfer while still in good academic standing.
“This score is clearly unacceptable,” Cal head coach Jeff Tedford said in a statement.
The press release from Cal also noted that the GSR fell in part because only seven of 19 freshmen from the Class of 2005 graduated within six years, five entering the NFL early.
“We have many student-athletes who want to pursue NFL dreams, but it is essential that we emphasize the importance of them graduating in a timely fashion,” Tedford said. “I have made it absolutely clear to our coaches, players and staff that we must reverse this trend. In recent months, we have taken concerted action to improve the support provided through our Academic Game Plan and will continue to make sure this is a top priority in our program.
“We all share the responsibility to meet Cal’s academic standards.”
The news could not have come at a worse time for Tedford, with his job security at an all-time low coming off a 21-3 pummeling by rival Stanford in the Big Game and needing three wins in the final four games to make a bowl.
Conversely, the men’s basketball program continued its upward ascent, having made huge strides under head coach Mike Montgomery. Its GSR has now jumped from 20 to 30 to 33 to 50 over the last four years, and should continue to rise, as both members of the Class of 2005 completed their academic obligations to graduate on schedule.
Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and writes about the Pac-12 for Fox Sports Next. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.