Keeping Score When It Counts

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: March 16, 2009

2009 Final FourORLANDO — The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida released its annual study, “Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Rates and Academic Progress Rates (APR) for 2009 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament Teams” which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament-bound teams.

The study examines the Graduation Success Rates (GSR) and Academic Progress Rates (APR) for the tournament teams as reported by the NCAA. The study also compares the performance in the classroom for African-American and white basketball student-athletes.

Dr. Richard Lapchick, the primary author of the study, is director of The Institute and Chair of the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program at UCF. The 2009 study was co-authored by William Johnson and Chris Kamke.

Lapchick noted that “There is again some positive academic news for the tournament teams when we examine the APR. The APR figures showed significant improvement in that only 21 tournament teams (32 percent) have an APR score below 925.”

“This is far better than the 35 men’s teams (54 percent) below the 925 score in 2008. NCAA President Myles Brand’s academic reform package is working.”

” Nonetheless, the continuing significant disparity between the academic success between African-American and white men’s basketball student-athletes is deeply troubling.”

“One of higher education’s greatest failures is the persistent gap between African-American and white basketball student-athletes in particular and students in general.”

“The good news is that the gaps are narrowing slightly and that the actual graduation rates of African-American basketball student-athletes are increasing.”

Based on the GSR, 40 teams (63 percent) graduated at least 50 percent of their basketball student-athletes (down from 64 percent in 2008). In addition, 30 teams (48 percent, the same as 2008) graduated at least 60 percent, and 22 teams (35 percent, a one percent increase from 2008) graduated at least 70 percent. Only 15 teams (24 percent, up from 22 percent in 2008) graduated less than 40 percent.

The NCAA created the APR in 2004 as part of an academic reform package designed to more accurately measure student-athletes’ academic success as well as improve graduation rates at member institutions by providing sanctions in the form of lost scholarships when teams fail to meet the NCAA standard for academic performance.

Teams that score below a 925, which is equivalent to an NCAA GSR rate of approximately 60 percent, can lose up to 10 percent of their scholarships. Teams can also be subject to historical penalties for poor academic performance over time.

Starting next year, teams that receive three straight years of historical penalties (below 900 APR) face the potential of restrictions on postseason competition for the team, in addition to scholarship and practice restrictions.

In the 2009 men’s Division I basketball tournament, only 21 teams (32 percent) have APR scores below 925. This is a significant improvement from 35 men’s teams (54 percent) below the 925 score in 2008.

Also, there were 23 teams (35 percent) with an APR of 950 or above, 18 teams (28 percent) with an APR of 960 or above and nine teams (14 percent) with an APR of 970 or above.

Seven of these teams will be subject to contemporaneous penalties by the NCAA, including Cal State Northridge, Southern California, Cleveland State, Morehead State, Portland State, Purdue and Tennessee.

Lapchick emphasized that “the GSR, developed in late 2005, provides a more accurate picture of the success student-athletes have in the classroom at NCAA member institutions than the Federal Graduation Rates. Now that we have four years of Academic Progress Rates (APR) data, this rate is also an important guide and we have included APR in this study.”

Based on Graduation Success Rate data, problems emerging from the study include the following:

– 58 percent (33 teams) of the men’s tournament teams graduated 70 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, while only 32 percent (20 teams) graduated 70 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes creating a 26 percent gap. However, this improved on a 31 percent gap from last year’s study.

– 65 percent (37 teams) of the men’s tournament teams graduated 60 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, while only 42 percent of schools (26 teams) graduated 60 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes resulting in a 23 percent gap. This is an improvement of ten percent from last year’s study, which showed a gap of 33 percent.

– 88 percent (50 teams) graduated 50 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, but only 50 percent (31 teams) graduated 50 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes creating a 38 percent gap which is actually larger than the 26 percent gap in last year’s study.

Lapchick continued, “In spite of the fact that some gaps are closing, race remains a continuing academic issue. This is reflected in the remaining substantial gaps between graduation rates for white and African-American student-athletes shown above and in the sections that will follow here.”

Graduation success rates for all men’s Division I basketball student-athletes have gone up slightly since last year. GSR data indicates that 65 percent (up one percent) of male Division I basketball student-athletes graduate.

White men’s Division I basketball student-athletes graduate 80 percent (down one percent) while 58 percent (up one percent) of African-American men’s Division I basketball student-athletes graduate.

This 22 percent difference is down two percent from last year but still is a cause for alarm in spite of the continued overall improvements. Lapchick insists, “It is important to understand the fact that African-American basketball players graduate at a higher rate than African-American males who are not student-athletes.”

“The graduation rate for African-American male students as a whole is only 38 percent, versus the overall rate of 61 percent for white male students, which is a scandalous 23 percentage point gap. Too many of our predominantly white campuses are not welcoming places for students of color, whether or not they are athletes.”

The following results also show a widening gap between the GRS for white and African-American student-athletes on this year’s tournament teams than from the 2008, cause for further alarm.

The GSR data shows:

20 men’s tournament teams (36 percent, an increase from 34 percent in 2008) have a 30 percentage point or greater gap between the graduation rates of white and African-American basketball student-athletes.

25 men’s tournament teams (45 percent, an increase from 44 percent in 2008) have a 20 percentage point or greater gap between the graduation rates of white and African-American basketball student-athletes.

Lapchick concluded, “As always, there are schools that win big enough to be here in March and graduate their student-athletes. If we were to choose a Top Ten for Graduation Success Rates, these schools would be there: Binghamton, Florida State, Marquette, Robert Morris, Utah State, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky, Butler, Oklahoma State, and Brigham Young University.

All of these teams had GSR’s greater than 90 percent. Seven teams achieved a 100 percent GSR: Florida State, Wake Forest, Binghamton, Marquette, Robert Morris, Western Kentucky and Utah State.

NCAA statistics were used in the study. The Institute reviewed 2001-02 graduation (six-year) rates, with a four class average (freshman classes of 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, and 2001-02).

The APR data in this study does not include data from the 2007-08 academic performances of the teams in the study, but instead uses the four-year data from the 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07 academic years. This is the first year without the squad-size adjustment for most teams that was in place until teams accumulated four years of APR data.

Note: The men’s percentages were calculated as follows:

1. Overall rates were based on 63 teams. (Cornell, like other Ivy League Schools, does not report graduation rates. North Dakota State also did not report graduation rates.)

2. Rates for African-American student-athletes were based on 62 teams. (In additional to Cornell and North Dakota State not reporting graduation rates, Utah had no African-American basketball student-athletes in the graduating class in the NCAA data from which the study’s data was gathered.)

3. Rates for white student-athletes were based on 57 teams. (In additional to Cornell and North Dakota State not reporting graduation rates, Alabama State, Temple, Memphis, Louisville, Villanova, and Louisiana State University had no white basketball student-athletes in the graduating class in the period under review.)

4. The disparity figures are based on 56 teams because Cornell and North Dakota State do not report graduation rates. In addition, Alabama State, Temple, Memphis, Louisville, Villanova, Louisiana State, and Utah had either no white or black basketball student-athletes.