Assessing The College Bowl Teams

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: December 8, 2008

Bowl Championship Series ORLANDO — Overall academic progress continued while the gap between white and African-American football student-athletes increased slightly for the 68 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools (formerly known as Division I-A schools) playing in this year’s college football bowl games according to a study released Monday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida.

Richard Lapchick, the Director of TIDES and the primary author of the study “Keeping Score When It Counts: Assessing the 2008-09 Bowl-bound College Football Teams – Academic Performance Improves but Race Still Matters,” noted that, “The new study shows additional progress and continues to underline the success of Myles Brand’s academic reform package.”

“This year 91 percent (62 of the 68 schools), up from 88 percent in the 2007 report, had at least a 50 percent graduation rate for their football teams; 82 percent of the teams received a score of more than 925 on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) versus only 73 percent in the 2007 report.”

The NCAA created the APR in 2004 as part of an academic reform package designed to more accurately measure student-athlete’s academic success as well as improve graduation rates at member institutions.

Lapchick added that, “In spite of the good news, the study showed that the huge gap between white and African-American football student-athletes remains a major issue; 19 teams or 28 percent of the bowl-bound schools graduated less than half of their African-American football student-athletes, while only Oklahoma graduated less than half of their white football student-athletes.”

The study was co-authored by Jessica Hanson and Ashley Turner.

A wide gap remains between white and African-American student-athletes’ graduation success rates in spite of all the progress with graduation rates. Lapchick said, “Each year the most disturbing information in the graduation success rate study is the disparity between the GSR of African-American and white football student-athletes.”

“While the graduation rates for African-American student-athletes have improved, the disparity has persisted for years.”

Overall at the 120 FBS schools, 76 percent of white football student-athletes graduated versus 59 percent of African-American football student-athletes.

The 17 percent gap is actually larger than the 14 percent (64 vs. 50 percent) gap reported in the 2007 study. While the gap is larger, it is certainly countered by the good news that it resulted from a 12 percent improvement for whites and a nine percent improvement for African-Americans.”

Lapchick emphasized, “However, it must be noted that African-American and white football players graduate at a higher rate than their male non-athletic peers in the student body. “

“The graduation rate for African-American male students as a whole is only 38 percent, in comparison to the 61 percent graduation rate for white male students – a disgraceful 23 percent gap.”

Among the disturbing news in the study is:

Among the bowl-bound teams, the following results were found:

– 56 schools (82 percent) had graduation success rates of 66 percent or higher for white football student-athletes, which was more than 2.7 times the number of schools with equivalent graduation success rates for African-American football student-athletes (21 schools or 31 percent).

– 19 schools (28 percent) graduated less than 50 percent of their African-American football student-athletes, while only Oklahoma graduated less than 50 percent of their white football student-athletes.

– Five schools (seven percent) graduated less than 40 percent of their African-American football student-athletes, while no school graduated less than 40 percent of their white football student-athletes.

Additional findings include the following:

– 12 schools (18 percent) had graduation success rates for African-American football student-athletes that were at least 30 percent lower than their rates for white football student-athletes.

– 29 schools (43 percent) had graduation success rates for African-American football student-athletes that were at least 20 percent lower than their rates for white football student-athletes.

Five schools had graduation success rates for African-American football student-athletes that exceeded their rates for white football student-athletes: Connecticut (five percent higher), Troy (five percent higher), Florida Atlantic (one percent higher), Oklahoma (one percent higher) and Rutgers (one percent higher). That was up from four schools in the 2007-08 study.

Three schools had overall GSR rates for football players that were better than the overall student-athletes (Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Nebraska).

Lapchick noted, “If there were a national championship for graduation success rates among bowl teams, Navy and Notre Dame would have played for the National Championship. Both teams graduated at least 94 percent of all football student-athletes and at least 93 percent of African-American football student-athletes.”

“If there were a national championship for APR scores Navy and Rutgers would contend for the National Championship, with APR scores of 979 and 977 respectively.”

Two conferences distinguished themselves from all of the FBS conferences represented in the APR study. The Atlantic Coast Conference is represented by two teams in the top 10 APR schools (Boston College and Miami-FL).

The ACC had all 10 of their bowl-bound member institutions and the Big Ten had all seven of its bowl-bound member institutions receive an APR score greater than 925.

NCAA statistics were used in this study. The Institute reviewed data collected by the NCAA from member institutions for the graduation rate study. The Institute reviewed 2001-02 graduation (six-year) rates, with a four-class average (freshmen classes of 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01 and 2001-02).

The APR holds each team accountable for the success of student-athletes in the classroom and their progression towards graduation. Individual teams are penalized if they fall below an APR score of 925, which is an expected graduation rate of 50 percent of its student-athletes.

As of now, scholarship reductions are the only penalties: up to 10 percent of scholarships can be taken away. Over time, historical penalties will be put into place for schools who continue to fall below the 925 APR.

Of the 12 teams below the 925 score this year, only Buffalo, Central Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Hawaii and Kansas will be subject to contemporaneous penalties by the NCAA.

The APR data does not include data from the 2007-08 academic performances of the teams in the study but instead uses the data from the 2005-06 and 2006-07 years.

The Institute has taken the position that Federal Graduation Rates (FGR) gives an unfair depiction of a school because it does not account for transfer students.

A student-athlete who transfers in good standing and graduates at another institution counts as a non-graduate at the initial school. The FGR also does not count a junior college student who transfers into a four-year college and graduates as a graduate or a former student-athlete who returns and graduates more than six years after original enrollment.

The Institute supports the NCAA’s use of the Graduation Success Rates (GSR), developed in 2005, which accounts for these factors, as a better way to fairly measure the results.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport serves as a comprehensive resource for issues related to gender and race in amateur, collegiate and professional sports.

The Institute researches and publishes a variety of studies, including annual studies of student-athlete graduation rates and racial attitudes in sports, as well as the nationally recognized Racial and Gender Report Card, an assessment of hiring practices in coaching and sport management.

Additionally, The Institute conducts diversity management training in conjunction with the National Consortium for Academics and Sports. The Institute also will monitor some of the critical ethical issues in college and professional sport, including the potential for the exploitation of student-athletes, gambling, performance-enhancing drugs and violence in sport.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport is part of the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program in the University of Central Florida’s College of Business Administration.

This landmark program focuses on business skills necessary for graduates to conduct successful careers in the rapidly changing and dynamic sports industry while also emphasizing diversity, community service and sport and social issues.

NOTE: For more information, please contact Jessica Bartter at jbartter@bus.ucf.eduor 407-823-4884.