A Reexamination of How Athletic Success Impacts Graduation Rates: Comparing Student-Athletes to All Other Undergraduates



Past research has found conflicting evidence concerning whether higher levels of athletic success positively or negatively impact college graduation rates. This paper intends to improve on past research by separating the graduation rate of student-athletes from all other undergraduates. Results using generalized least squared estimation and paired t-tests from a sample of Division I schools suggest that neither the graduation rate for student-athletes nor the graduation rate for all other undergraduates is sensitive to the level of a school's athletic success. However, the graduation gap between student-athletes and all other undergraduates is sensitive to various measures of a school's athletic success. Women have higher graduation rates than men in general, and this gender graduation gap is exacerbated when focusing on student-athletes at schools with the most prominent athletic programs.