- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Northwestern's football program continues to shine in the classroom and in gaining the sheepskins.
The NCAA released its latest graduation success rate scores on Thursday, and the Wildcats led all FBS teams with a 97-percent graduation rate in football. Last year, Northwestern was tied for first with Notre Dame. Northwestern also ranked No. 1 in the latest NCAA academic progress report scores that were released in the summer.
The graduation success rate (GSR) accounts for transfers and athletes who leave campus in good academic standing, unlike the federal graduation rate, which does not include transfers. The GSR measures graduation over a six-year period from initial enrollment; these latest figures are a four-year average for freshmen who entered school between the fall of 2003 and the fall of 2006.
The national GSR average for football was 71 percent, the highest number since the NCAA started using this measurement, and it is one percent higher than last year's number. Eight of the 12 Big Ten teams exceeded that national average. The rate for all Division I student-athletes was 82 percent.
Penn State, which ranked seventh among all FBS schools last year with a 91 percent rate, finished second in the Big Ten in this latest report at 85 percent. That's tied for 12th in the FBS this year. Iowa also finished in the Top 25 with an 81 percent success rate. Incoming Big Ten member Rutgers tied with Penn State at No. 12.
Here's how each Big Ten team fared:
1. Northwestern: 97 percent
2. Penn State: 85 percent
3. Iowa: 81 percent
4. Nebraska: 76 percent
T-5. Minnesota: 75 percent
T-5. Ohio State: 75 percent
7. Illinois: 73 percent
8. Wisconsin: 72 percent
9. Michigan State: 70 percent
10. Indiana: 67 percent
11. Michigan: 66 percent
12. Purdue: 64 percent
4dDan Murphy and Austin Ward