November 05, 2015, BY Matthew Beltz

Bucknell Athletics is once again ranked among the nation's best in student-athlete graduation rate by the NCAA's annual survey, finishing second behind Stanford for the second year in a row. According to the U.S. Department of Education's standards, Bucknell had a four-class average of 90 percent for student-athletes entering between 2005–06 and 2008–09. Stanford scored 95 percent, while Northwestern and Notre Dame tied Bucknell (the Ivy League and military academies do not report federal graduation rates).

By the federal guidelines, seven Bison varsity programs have perfect 100-percent graduation rates: baseball, men's water polo, field hockey, women's lacrosse, women's swimming and diving, women's tennis and volleyball. Eight other programs are at 89 percent or better.

Over the last three years, Bucknell has ranked either second or first in the nation in student-athlete graduation rate. According to John Hardt, director of athletics & recreation, it is the hard work of Bucknell's student-athletes in the classroom that is primarily responsible for this continued success. In addition to the efforts of the student-athletes themselves, Bucknell, as a member of the Patriot League, is determined to admit and graduate scholar-athletes who succeed in the classroom as well as on the field or court.

"Bucknell's annual success in the NCAA's student-athlete graduation rate report is a reflection of our unwavering commitment to the scholar-athlete model," said Hardt. "Bison student-athletes are highly motivated to succeed both in the classroom and at the highest level of college athletics. We are extremely proud of our national leadership in graduation rates, but graduation is just the beginning. Our goal is to help prepare student-athletes to become leaders and difference-makers in all of their future pursuits." 

Bucknell and all Patriot League institutions use an academic index that is calculated for all student-athletes to ensure that all academic credentials are reflective of their institation's general student body. They also strive to maintain the same academic standards and values for all students, and Patriot League athletes receive no special academic privileges or consideration.

This core philosophy at Bucknell and throughout the Patriot League has helped lead to the league ranking first in student-athlete graduation rates since 1998 among Division I conferences offering scholarships. Bucknell has led the way more often than not, as it has ranked in the top five in the country in this category in eight of the last 10 years, including ranking second five times and first once in 2013.

Bucknell also scored well — 96 percent — in the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR) results. The GSR differs from the federal graduation-rate formula in that the GSR factors in transfer students who do graduate, and does not penalize schools for losing transfers who leave in good academic standing.

Eighteen Bison sports programs have perfect 100-percent GSR ratings: baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, men's water polo, wrestling, rowing, field hockey, women's golf, softball and volleyball.

The wrestling team is one of only five programs with a perfect GSR, joining Stanford, Princeton, Davidson and Cornell. The men's basketball team is one of 47 out of 346 Division I programs with a GSR of 100.

Bucknell sponsors 27 intercollegiate sports at the Division I level. It is a charter member of the Patriot League and has won the league's all-sports championship in 18 of the 25 years it has been contested.