By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Record-setting news from the classroom greeted the University of Iowa Athletics Department on Tuesday and it is becoming a pleasant, reoccurring story.
Something like this was foreshadowed in March when two Hawkeye basketball players — Ally Disterhoft and Jarrod Uthoff — were named Academic All-America of the Year in women’s basketball and men’s basketball. But the academic prowess of the Hawkeyes encompasses all sports.
Headlining the list of accomplishments for the UIAD is the field hockey and women’s golf teams that for seven consecutive years have boasted perfect Graduation Success Rates (GSR). The UI men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, and volleyball teams also scored a perfect 100 on their GSR.
“There is a competition inside the department when you consider 16 of our teams exceeded their graduation success rate of a year ago,” said Gary Barta, UI director of athletics. “We bring in students that are among the best in the country at what they do. They are competitive people athletically and academically. The combination of creating a culture, recruiting students who are committed to earning a degree, and providing them the resources through our Gerdin Learning Center, is a combination that sets us up for record numbers like we experienced this year.”
Department-wide, the Hawkeyes set all-time highs with a 90 percent GSR and a 76 percent Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) for a four-class average.
Disterhoft, a business major, owns a 4.03 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale). On the court, she led the Hawkeyes to a 19-14 record in 2015-16 while averaging 17.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.
“I can’t say enough about the professors I have had the privilege to learn from and the extremely bright and intelligent classmates I have met,” Disterhoft said. “There is a lot of uncertainty when you go to college. You know sports are going to be elevated to a completely different level. There is also uncertainly about what classes will be like and how difficult it will be to manage everything you have on your plate.”
For Disterhoft and a majority of UI student-athletes, the assist provided by staff at the Gerdin Learning Center has been invaluable.
“The resources we have on campus give our student-athletes opportunities to be successful,” Disterhoft said. “It’s nice to have a place like the Gerdin Learning Center where you can go and know you will have quiet study time. There are tutors, a computer lab, and a refueling station which is always a nice touch.”
UI student-athletes rank higher than the national average in GSR and FGR. For the past two seasons, Iowa has had the second-highest GSR in the Big Ten Conference (tied with Michigan and Minnesota). There is more:
- Iowa has the fourth-highest FGR in the Big Ten.
- Highest GSR in the state of Iowa among regent schools Drake, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa.
- Eighteen UI teams are at or above the National FGR for all Division I student-athletes.
- Sixteen teams are at or above the National GSR for all Division I student-athletes.
“The No. 1 thing we want to accomplish is make sure every student-athlete has the opportunity to be successful at the University of Iowa,” said Liz Tovar, associate athletics director for student-athlete academic services. “It’s extremely important to us that those students not only be able to get their degree from the university, but also be able to go on and become leaders in their career fields.”
So what is GSR and FGR?
GSR: The NCAA Graduation Success Rate is designed to show the proportion of student-athletes on any given team who earn a college degree. The NCAA has imposed a set of academic standards that seeks to hold teams and institutions accountable for how well a student-athlete progresses toward a degree. The GSR takes into account incoming transfers who graduate from a different institution than the one they started at and transfers who leave an institution in good standing. The GSR better accounts for the high mobility of student-athletes.
FGR: The Federal Graduation Rate is compiled by the U.S. Department of Education and is used as an indicator of academic success for college student-athletes. FGR measures the percentage of first-time, full-time freshmen who graduate within six years of entering their original four-year institution.
“Culturally and historically, Hawkeye student-athletes have done well in the classroom and this year is no exception,” Barta said. “We’re proud when we win, graduate, and how our student-athletes represent this university. This is one more example of the Hawkeyes being the best, and when you come to Iowa, you’re going to leave prepared to take on the world.”
To visit a web site dedicated to the achievement of University of Iowa student-athletes, click HERE.
To learn more about the Gerdin Learning Center, click HERE.
To learn more about the Hawkeye Life Program, click HERE.