By Charles Hallman
All last week, endless bracket stories were told ad nauseam. But not a Mavis Staples hoot about Richard Lapchick’s annual “Keeping Score When it Counts” report on NCAA men’s and women’s tournament teams.
Lapchick, director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), each year examines the Graduation Success Rates (GSR) and Academic Progress Rates (APR) for these teams, and also compares Black and White male and female basketball student-athletes.
“The enormous gap between the graduation rates of White and African-American student-athletes narrowed by almost four percent,” wrote Lapchick in his March 12 report: White male players graduate at 88 percent, down from 91 percent in 2011; and 60 percent of Black males graduate, a percent higher than last year. Also, White female players’ graduation rate is 93 percent compared to 85 percent for Black females.
His study also noted that a combined 13 schools — 10 women’s and three men’s — have a higher Black graduation rate than Whites’; and 31 schools — 22 women’s and nine men’s — have a 100-percent graduation rate for both Black and White players.
“While all of that is positive news, the most troubling statistic in our study is the continuing large disparity between the GSR of White basketball student-athletes and African-American basketball student-athletes… It remains an embarrassing 28 percent,” says Lapchick.
This is what we call the “disparity gap” (DG), a plus or minus percentage points between Black and White graduation rates:
Florida leads the 11 men’s teams with the highest DG, a -80, followed by New Mexico State (-77), Wisconsin (-71) and Iowa State (-71). Navy tops the women’s teams at minus-67, then Gonzaga (-50), Arkansas-Little Rock (-40) and Eastern Michigan (-40) in this regard.
And among the 10 women’s teams with more Blacks than Whites graduating percentage-wise: UTEP (+78), Maryland (+41), Michigan (+37), San Diego State (+25) and BYU (+20). Temple (+36), North Carolina State (+33) and North Carolina-Asheville (+7) are the only men’s teams in this area.
Minnesota was not in the study since the Gophers are NIT (men’s) and WBI (women) participants. However, a 2011 MSR front-page article last November showed that Minnesota Black student-athlete graduation rates in men’s (eighth) and women’s basketball (12th) are worst or near the bottom in the Big Ten.
During a March 13 conference call, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters that those schools that graduate all their Black and White players “have their priorities right. These programs are showing success on the court and off it.”
Meanwhile, Duncan was critical of those schools, especially the “basketball powerhouses” who are in this year’s tournament, that fell below the NCAA minimum 925 APR. If they don’t meet the new standard of 930, which will take effect in 2014, they will not qualify for postseason play the following year, Duncan noted.
The new standard is the equivalent of a 50-percent graduation rate, which the education secretary called “a [good] starting point” but added that conferences must “draw a line in the sand” and demand their member schools to do it right, academically speaking. “You will see immediate change very, very rapidly” if this takes place, believes Duncan.
As usual, there was little or no mention of Lapchick’s study last week amidst the endless bracket-busting babbling, but the NCAA continues to run during telecasts oxymoronic PSAs on how student-athletes are doing well in the classroom. They’re right in one respect: some are, but certainly not all.
After a three-year absence, the Gophers women’s hoopsters (17-17) are seeing late-March action: They play Manhattan Friday, 7 pm, at Williams Arena in the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) semifinals. It’s Minnesota’s first-ever appearance in this made-for-TV-but-not-on-TV tourney that debuted in 2010.
And congrats to the Minnesota women’s hockey team, who became 2012 NCAA champions last weekend.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected]