The graduation rates of African American athletes playing for Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams are still miles apart compared to their white counterpart, according to a new report put out by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). That alarming fact has been re-enforced by Rose Bowl participants Oregon and Wisconsin, which only saw 51 and 50 percent of their black players, respectively, earn degrees in the past year.
In comparison, Oregon graduated 78 percent of their white player, while Wisconsin had 86 percent of their non-black athletes walk off with diplomas. This scenario is no different with Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl teams Cal and Texas. The Longhorns of Texas graduated just 47 percent of its African American football players. Cal is no better, sending just 46 percent of its black football athletes last year.
This is not an abbreviation as other big-time college football programs have failed in their duties and responsibilities to see that all of their student-athletes earn a degree, despite raking in millions and millions of dollars in bowl revenue money off of the backs of these players. The TIDES report, “Keeping Score When it Counts: Assessing the 2011-2012 Bowl-Bound College Football Teams,” show prominent football programs are still slow in closing the racial gap when it comes to their student-athletes graduating.
Kraft Hunger Bowl participant UCLA (46 percent), last year’s national champion Auburn (52 percent), AT&T Cotton Bowl team Arkansas (44 percent), Ticket City Bowl invitee Houston (46 percent) and Ohio State (51 percent),taking part in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, graduate their African American football players at substantial lower rate than their while ballplayers, according to the TIDES study.
However, despite the glaring number of the poor percentage rates of these schools and others when it comes to graduating African American football players at these major football institutions, Dr. Richard Lapchick, director of TIDES and the primary author of the study, is encouraged that 70 FBS schools surveyed in this report have made improvements in graduating all of their student-athletes.
“The academic success of FBS football student-athletes continued to grow this year. The overall football student-athlete Graduation Success Rate (GSR) improved from 67 percent to 68 percent,” Lapchick said in the report.” This year, 97 percent of the schools (68 of the 70) had at least a 50 percent Graduation Success Rate for their football teams, a significant 6 percentage point increase from the 2010 study. In addition, 99 percent of the schools (69 of the 70) received a score higher than 925 on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR), the same percentage as last year.”
Among those schools include Alabama and LSU, two teams playing for the BCS National Championship game. LSU graduated 69 percent of its African American football players and posted a 966 APR rate. On the other hand, Alabama graduated 62 percent of its black players while totaling an impressive 963 APR. Of course, with every success, there is room for improvement. Lap chick cautions against getting too excited about the gradual improvement numbers of African American football players.
“While the study showed that the graduation rates improved for both white and African-American football student-athletes, the study also showed that the alarming gap between white and African-American football student-athletes remained virtually the same this year and persists as a major issue,” said Lapchick. “Among the 70 bowl-bound teams this year, the average GSR for African-American football student-athletes is 61 percent, up from 60 percent in 2010. The average GSR for white football student-athletes went from 80 percent last year to 81 percent this year. Overall, this reflects a 20 percentage point gap, which is the same as last year. In addition, 26 percent of the bowl-bound schools (18 out of 70) graduated less than half of their African-American football student-athletes, while no schools graduated less than half of its white football student-athletes.”
The findings in the study among this season’s 70 bowl-bound teams include:
- 66 schools (94 percent) had Graduation Success Rates of 66 percent or higher for white football student-athletes, which was more than 2.6 times the number of schools with equivalent Graduation Success Rates for African-American football student-athletes (25 schools or 36 percent). Although a disturbing trend, it is a slight improvement from last year, when the number of schools with a GSR of 66 percent or higher for white football student-athletes was 2.7 times greater than for African-American student-athletes.
- While 52 of the 70 schools (74 percent) of the bowl-bound schools graduated 50 percent or higher of their African-American football student-athletes, all of the schools graduated 50 percent or higher of their white football student-athletes.
- Two schools (3 percent) graduated less than or equal to 40 percent of their African-American football student-athletes, while no school graduated less than 40 percent of its white football student-athletes. This is a 4 percentage point decrease from last year’s bowl-bound teams (from 7 percent to 3 percent).
In addition, the size of the gap among some schools is alarming:
- 16 schools (23 percent) had Graduation Success Rates for African-American football student-athletes that were at least 30 percentage points lower than their rates for white football student-athletes.
- 38 schools (54 percent) had Graduation Success Rates for African-American football student-athletes that were at least 20 percentage points lower than their rates for white football student-athletes. This number of schools with this disparity level has increased from last year by 4 percentage points.
On a final note, Lapchick said the graduation rates of both black and white football players are higher than students not active in sports.
“It must be emphasized that African-American and white football players graduate at a higher rate than their male non-athletic peers in the student body,” said Lapchick. “The graduation rate for African-American male students as a whole is only 40 percent, in comparison to the 60 percent graduation rate for white male students, according to a 2010 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.”
Source: The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES)