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March 16, 2009 - Graduation Rates and APR scores for NCAA men's basketball tournament teams

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport 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.” The study examined the progress toward graduation for the teams competing in the NCAA Division I men's basketbal tournement, as measured by Graduation Success Rates (GSR) and Academic Progress Rates (APR). The study specifically compared the performance in the classroom for African‐American and White basketball athletes.

According to the report, there is little difference in improvement in graduation rates based on the GSR, but demonstrative improvement when considering the APR.  According to 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. Considering the APR, there is significant improvement with only 21 tournament teams (32 percent) with an APR score below 925, an improvement from the 35 men’s teams (54 percent) below the 925 score last year.

A closer look at graduation rates by race showed more concerning results.  While 58 percent (33 teams) of the men’s tournament teams graduated 70 percent or more of their white basketball student‐athletes, only 32 percent (20 teams) graduated 70 percent or more of their African‐American basketball student‐athletes creating a 26 percent gap. And, 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. Also, 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.

Dr. Richard Lapchick, the primary author of the report, stated “There is again some positive academic news for the tournament teams when we examine the APR. 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.”