Some Improvements, But Gaps Still Remain

By The Associated Press
Updated: March 15, 2010

ORLANDO — 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 for 2010 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 study was co-authored this year by Christopher Kaiser and Brian Hoff.

Lapchick noted that “There is again positive academic news for the tournament teams when we examine the GSR and the APR. There was a two percentage point increase for all male student-athletes to 64 percent.”

“Eighty-four percent of white and 56 percent of African-American men’s Division I basketball student-athletes graduate, increasing six percentage points for white basketball student-athletes and by two percentage points for African-American basketball student-athletes compared to last year’s study.”

Based on the GSR, 44 teams or 69 percent of the total graduated at least 50 percent of their basketball student-athletes (up from 63 percent in 2009). In addition, 37 teams (58 percent, a 10 percentage point increase from 2009) graduated at least 60 percent and 29 teams (45 percent, also a 10 percentage point increase from 2009) graduated at least 70 percent. Only 12 teams (19 percent, down from 24 percent in 2009) graduated less than 40 percent.

Lapchick went on to say, “Nonetheless, the continuing significant disparity between the academic success of African-American and white men’s basketball student-athletes is deeply troubling. In fact, the already large gap increased by four percentage points. One of higher education’s greatest failures is the persistent gap between African-American and white students in general. This is also true for white and African-American basketball student-athletes in particular. The gaps continue to widen, even though the actual graduation rates of African-American basketball student-athletes are increasing.”

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.

The GSR tells us far more than the Federal Graduation Rates did in the past.

Also, by utilizing four years of Academic Progress Rates (APR) data, a far better depiction of the academic performance of student-athletes is illustrated. Thus the APR rates have been included in this study.”

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 this year, teams that receive three straight years of historical penalties (below 900 APR or approximately a 45 percent GSR) face the potential of restrictions on postseason competition for the team, in addition to scholarship and practice restrictions.

In this year’s men’s Division I basketball tournament, 19 teams have APR scores below 925. Seven of these teams will be subject to contemporaneous penalties by the NCAA, including New Mexico State, UC Santa Barbara, Morgan State, Purdue, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, and Tennessee.

This is a slight improvement from 21 teams in 2009 and a significant improvement from 35 men’s teams below the 925 score in 2008. Also, there were 28 teams (43 percent) with an APR of 950 or above, 22 teams (34 percent) with an APR of 960 or above and 15 teams (23 percent) with an APR of 970 or above.

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

79 percent (45 teams) of the men’s tournament teams graduated 70 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, while only 31 percent (20 teams) graduated 70 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes creating a 48 percent gap. This significantly increased on a 26 percent gap from last year’s study. 86 percent (49 teams) of the men’s tournament teams graduated 60 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, while only 45 percent of schools (29 teams) graduated 60 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes resulting in a 41 percent gap. This is another large increase of 18 percent from last year’s study, which showed a gap of 23 percent. 91 percent (52 teams) graduated 50 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, but only 56 percent (36 teams) graduated 50 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes creating a 35 percent gap which is actually smaller than the 38 percent gap in last year’s study. Lapchick continued, “Race remains a continuing academic issue. While a few gaps are closing, there are too many remaining substantial gaps between graduation rates for white and African-American student-athletes shown above and in the sections that will follow here.” “White men’s Division I basketball student-athletes graduate at a rate of 84 percent while 56 percent of African-American men’s Division I basketball student-athletes graduate. This 28 percent difference is four percentage points larger than last year. It is clear that this issue remains a major concern that must be addressed.

“However, it is equally important to note 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, a full 18 percent lower than for African-American basketball student-athletes. Presently, too many of our predominantly white campuses are not welcoming places for students of color, whether or not they are athletes. There are lessons that our campuses could learn from athletics.”

The following results from 2009 continue to be alarming. The GSR data shows:

28 men’s tournament teams (49 percent, an increase from 36 percent in 2009) have a 30 percentage point or greater gap between the graduation rates of white and African-American basketball student-athletes. 37 men’s tournament teams (65 percent, an increase from 45 percent in 2009) 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: BYU, Marquette, Notre Dame, Utah State, Wake Forest, Wofford, Duke, Lehigh, Vermont, and Villanova .

All of these teams had GSR greater than 90 percent. Six teams achieved a 100 percent GSR: BYU, Marquette, Notre Dame, Utah State, and Wake Forest.”

NCAA statistics were used in the study. The Institute reviewed 2002-03 graduation (six-year) rates, with a four class average (freshman classes of, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02, and 2002-03).

The APR data in this study does not include data from the 2008-09 academic performances of the teams, but instead uses the four-year data from the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08 academic years.

This is the second year without the squad-size adjustment for most teams that was in place until teams accumulated four years of APR data.