A report released recently by the NCAA states that the UA has graduated 49 percent of its student-athletes who entered in 1987-88, tied with Washington State University for the lowest rate among Pacific 10 Conference schools.

The UA has also graduated 49 percent of other freshmen from that class, which puts Arizona above only Arizona State in the Pac-10, according to the report.

This is not good.

First of all, it is not clear which side of the UA's equation should be embarrassed by this: athletics or academics. But someone should be embarrassed by these absurdly low figures.

On one hand, it is commendable that the student-athletes, who have demands on their time and their bodies not often experienced by other students, are able to stay even in their graduation rate.

Consider also that many of these student-athletes leave college early for professional sports, not because they cannot do the work; it suggests that of those who stay the full four (or five) years, more student-athletes graduate than do other students.

But then again, the UA athletic department should not be pleased that less than half of its freshmen from six years ago have their diplomas. That figure ranks last in the Pac-10, tied with Washington State, so it is not as if the UA is competitive with its peer schools.

And consider the schools that boast higher graduation rates than Arizona, both for student-athletes and other students. The University of Oregon. Oregon State. These are certainly respectable schools, but Harvard and Yale do not come to mind. Stanford and Cal-Berkeley, okay, but Oregon?

As for the student body graduation percentage, 49 percent is laughable. It is a shining example of the neglect for undergraduate education that is slowly strangling this university.

Perhaps too much time is being spent on research and not enough time is being spent figuring out why smaller, less prestigious schools can far outdistance the UA in graduation rates.

Consider also that the average graduation rate for all NCAA Division I schools was 57 percent for student-athletes and 56 percent for other students. And Marist College and Providence College each graduated an even 100 percent of its freshmen from that class.

It does not seem too much to ask for the UA to at least meet the national average. Six years is long enough to graduate any student. It is also long enough to expose the indifference of the past. Read Next Article