Monday, October 20th, 2014

Readers criticize ruling on graduation rates of Rutgers University's football team

Gov. Chris Christie talks with former Rutgers University football coach Greg Schiano in 2010.
Gov. Chris Christie talks with former Rutgers University football coach Greg Schiano in 2010.

A False ruling published Sunday on Gov. Chris Christie’s claim that under coach Greg Schiano the Rutgers University football team earned the best graduation rate in its division sparked cries of nitpicking from some readers.

As we noted in the original ruling, the state university's football team had the best academic progress rate in its division two years ago, but it never had the best graduation rate. The academic progress rate, or APR, measures whether student-athletes remain academically eligible and remain with the school. The APR does not measure graduation rates.

In e-mails and nearly 40 comments on NJ.com, readers weighed in on PolitiFact New Jersey’s ruling.

NJ.com commenter rutgers56 said: "The writer is nitpicking. While Rutgers was 7th in division 1 in graduation rate, the football program had the highest graduation rate of any state university. Further as noted their APR was the highest at one point of any school. Both are great accomplishments and worthy of note as Christie mentioned."

In an email, Thomas Smith asked: what was the point of our ruling?

"The tone of the article is that there is something amiss with the academic performance of the Rutgers football team.  The governor was obviously meaning to speak to Rutgers' number 1 APR ranking.  Regardless, no matter how you measure it, the academic performance of the Rutgers football team has been excellent, and that should have been the main thrust of your article," Smith wrote.

"Can we start a Star Ledger Truth O Meter to check their ‘facts?’" asked NJ.com user fanofunion.

One reader said the ruling failed to assess what’s going on behind the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s statistics.

"As a Rutgers College graduate and Ivy League professor (emeritus), I can tell you that the numbers cited for the vaunted Rutgers' NCAA prescribed academic progression rates (APR) and graduation rates (GSR) must be phony in the sense that they do not tell one what courses, curricula or grading standards are used to quantify the academic performance of the athletes in relation to the rest of the undergraduates with respect to the requirements for passing courses or graduation. As many must be aware, it has been stated and proved that academic requirements for some athletes at other colleges are either non-existent or ludicrously so low as to make a mockery of the concept of a college education," NJ.com user Karl1955 wrote.                     

NJ.com user spamoni didn’t take issue with the ruling, but said: "Lets be honest, A high graduation rate is something to be proud of but it's not why they pay a coach millions of dollars."

Got something to say? Email PolitiFact New Jersey or join the conversation about the ruling at NJ.com.