Wednesday, March 16, 2005

March Sadness

Most men's NCAA tourney teams failed to reach 50 percent graduation rate
March 16, 2005

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A new study says 42 of the 65 teams playing in the men's NCAA tournament graduated less than 50 percent of their players.

The graduation rate statistics, compiled in a study released Tuesday by the University of Central Florida, also found that women's teams in the NCAA tournament continue to graduate players at a much higher level. The numbers are based on athletes who entered the universities from 1994 to 1997 and were or were not able to graduate in six years.

If the NCAA's new academic reform plan was in place, the teams with less than 50 percent graduation rates would face penalties that include loss of scholarships and a ban on postseason play.

The NCAA has said penalties won't be issued until 2004-05 graduation data is included, which will happen in the 2005-06 academic year.

``Regarding graduation rates for women, we can cut down the nets in celebration. As for men's graduation rates, especially for African-American student-athletes, the dance has barely begun,'' said Richard Lapchick, director of UCF's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

The study also found an increasing disparity between the graduation rates of white and black student-athletes on NCAA tournament teams.

Two men's team, LSU and Minnesota, failed to graduate even one basketball player, according to numbers supplied by the 2004 NCAA Graduation Rates Report. Two No. 1 seeds -- Illinois (47 percent) and Washington (45 percent) -- graduated less than half its players.

Bucknell and Utah State both graduated 100 percent, but only four other schools topped 70 percent.

Numbers looked much better for women's teams, where only six schools in the 64-team field failed to graduate at least 50 percent, while 35 graduated at least 70 percent. Eight schools graduated at least 90 percent with Holy Cross, Vanderbilt and Montana registering 100 percent.

All four of the top-seeded women's team graduated at least 53 percent.

When the numbers were broken down by race, the study showed 40 women's teams graduated at least 70 percent of their white players and 24 graduated at least 70 percent of their black players -- more than double the numbers for the men's teams.

Only 17 men's teams graduated at least 70 percent of white players while just 10 had the same percentage for black players.

Ten women's teams failed to graduate a black student-athlete while only two failed to graduate a white player. On the men's side, nine schools each failed to graduate white or black student-athletes.

``Race is an ongoing academic issue, reflected in the continued gap between graduation rates for white and African-American student-athletes,'' Lapchick said. ``While rates for both groups have improved over the last few years, a significant disparity remains between graduation rates for white and African-American basketball student-athletes.''

Graduation rate numbers did not include Ivy League schools -- Dartmouth women and Pennsylvania men -- which do not report graduation rates.


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