The faculty at George Washington University may be a little more bitter after the news hit the mainstream, as they lose their spot in US News’ Best Colleges rankings as a penalty for submitting false or faulty data for more than a decade.

The Washington D.C. University went from No. 51 in the rankings, to fall completely off of the US News & World Report‘s annual Best Colleges list. The reportedly inflated data included the high-grades of incoming students — 78% of their 2011 student body were in the top 10% of their High School graduating classes — and the real number was reported as lower than 58%.

On Wednesday, Robert Morse, director of data research at U.S. News, explained in a blog post that the magazine decided to drop GWU from No. 51 to “Unranked.”

“This Unranked status will last until next fall’s publication of the 2014 edition of the Best Colleges rankings, and until George Washington confirms the accuracy of the school’s next data submission in accordance with U.S. News’s requirements,” Morse said.

GWU officials claim they had discovered class-rank data while under internal review over the summer, the excuse for the bad data was left to “not every high school keeps track of where students rank among their classmates.” In this case, real, number-driven data was replaced on the assumption that these high-performing students were among the top 10 percent of their class, after reviewing their GPA and standardized test scores.

But, it’s not all bad — GWU president Steven Knapp had actually reported the erroneous data to U.S. News of his own accord, regardless of the consequences.

We were surprised by the decision of U.S. News to remove George Washington’s numerical ranking rather than to correct it in light of our disclosure. U.S. News data about GW is still available on the U.S. News website,” Knapp said. “We regret the error and have put safeguards in place to prevent such errors from occurring in the future.

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