Nicholls graduation rates highest amongst Conference


Photo by: Misty Leigh McElroy

The Colonels baseball team receives their degrees on the diamond after their final regular season last May.

According to statistics released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the graduation rate of student-athletes at Nicholls is among the highest in the Southland Conference.

The Graduation Success Rate report shows that 74 percent of Nicholls student-athletes who started college in 2007 earned their degrees within six years. This is an improvement from last year, and also the fourth consecutive year the university showed overall academic improvement.

Nicholls State University Director of Athletics Rob Bernardi is entering his fourteenth year as head of the athletic department. In his tenure as athletic director, Bernardi’s commitment to improving graduation rates has been a goal of his. The recent success of student-athletes is something Bernardi and the entire athletic facility take pride in, and wishes to keep this rate of achievement going in years to come.

“It starts with the coaches. They clearly have the message from us as administrators to recruit academically ambitious students, students who genuinely have the desire to go to school and get a degree,” Bernardi said.

Nicholls’ overall GSR ranks third among the 11 Southland Conference schools and fourth among Louisiana’s public universities with Division I athletics. Nicholls only trails Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University and University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

“When I first got here, Nicholls was an open admissions university. Some years later, the University moved to select admissions and our graduation rates and Academic Progress Rate was really low. The NCAA doesn’t care if you’re open admissions or not because we’re measured against all NCAA institutions in the nation,” Bernardi said. “So for us to be where we are now, we’ve made great strides towards progressing.”

The noteworthy improvements off-field continue to be a focal point not only in the athletic facility, but also within team’s goals as well. Last year, women’s athletics was ranked second-best in the conference, graduating 82 percent of it’s athletes.

Of the 12 athletic programs at Nicholls, six teams earned top-ranking GSRs among Louisiana Southland Conference schools, including football, softball, women’s track, volleyball, and both the men’s and women’s tennis teams.
Teams showing progressive academic improvements over the past year include soccer, volleyball, men’s tennis and football.

The Nicholls men and women’s tennis teams have the highest GSR in the state of Louisiana. The women’s tennis team leads the way overall, graduating 100 percent of its athletes for the past three years.

“I believe this trend of academic success will continue because it has been a major emphasis within the department,” Bernardi said. “When student-athletes come to Nicholls as freshmen, they enter a culture that understands that sports are seasonal, but academics is year-round.”