NCAA graduation rates reveal stark racial disparity

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

It’s not surprising that after the bright lights fade from the floor of the Final Four championship games some college basketball players dream of going pro. But if you don't go pro, what do you do? The NCAA has tried in recent years to make it clear that they value academic success as much as athletics, but a new study reveals that their efforts may not be working. At least not among black male athletes. A recent study by The University of Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports reveals that the statistics are bleak: White male student athletes graduate at 80 percent versus only 58 percent of their black teammates. Michigan State had the greatest disparity in graduation rates among the Sweet 16 teams: All of its white players graduated, but only 43 percent of the black players got a diploma. Two colleges—Arizona and Gonzaga—didn’t graduate any black players at all. Some teams are doing better, the NCAA Basketball Champions, UNC, graduated 80 percent of its black players. And African American women in the tournament graduated at a rate of 78 percent. Joining us to discuss these troubling statistics is Dr. Boyce Watkins, professor of finance at Syracuse University and founder of

The NCAA has been promoting academics through PSAs like this one:

Would this make you stay in school with the lure of an NBA salary?


Boyce Watkins

Hosted by:

Femi Oke


Jen Poyant and Nadia Zonis

Comments [2]

Cassandra Dworchak

Mr. Watkins did not mention the obligations of the individual student. He also failed to note the support system for student athletes that far exceeds that provided for the average student at MSU. The Smith Academic Center offers quiet study areas, computers, specialized learning specialists etc... that can only be accessed by student athletes. I come from poverty and I worked two and three jobs at a time while taking a full course load. When tutoring was available I went despite my circumstances. What is the key difference between me, a once poor kid who was the first person to graduate from college in their family and those 57% that did not graduate? I wanted to graduate, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity that MSU gave me by allowing me to be there. It is not the institution's fault that individuals do not succeed. That is the same tired thinking that oppresses people instead of helping them help themselves.

Apr. 08 2009 09:25 AM

How does Dr. Watkins explain that African American women graduate at a rate of 78%. I would assume that he would say that the women also come from poverty. Some of the responsibility has to be placed on the shoulders of the players who make choices.

Apr. 08 2009 08:54 AM

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