April 8th, 2009 20:14 EST
What's a Brother Got to Do To Get a Good Grade: Basketball?
If the basketball championship games had been based on how athletes performed in the classroom instead of on the basketball court, Monday night`s championship game in Detroit would have been between Duke and Villanova instead of North Carolina and Michigan State in the men`s division and top-ranked Connecticut would have faced either Ohio State, Stanford or Vanderbilt instead of Louisville in the women`s championship game Tuesday night in St. Louis.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, based at the University of Central Florida, listed academic rankings for both men and women basketball programs. Using the NCAA`s Graduation Success Rates, Duke and Villanova were tied in the men`s bracket with 89 percent, followed closely by North Carolina at 86 percent, Xavier (82 percent), Purdue (77 percent) and Pittsburgh (69 percent). Michigan State was ranked 9th, with a 60 percent rate.
In the women`s competition, Connecticut, Ohio State, Stanford and Vanderbilt were all tied at 100 percent. Iowa State and Pittsburgh tied at 93 percent, followed by Arizona State with 90 percent. Louisville came in 11th, with an 80 percent success rate.
The rankings were contained in a report titled, "Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Rates and Academic Progress Rates (APR) for 2009 NCAA Division 1 Basketball Tournament Teams."
Richard Lapchick, director of the sports institute and principal author of the study, said that while there has been some overall progress in the teams that made the NCAA tournament this year compared to last year, there were some notable shortcomings.
"...The continuing significant disparity between the academic success between African-American and white men`s basketball student-athletes is deeply troubling," Lapchick said in the report. "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."
According to the report, 58 percent (33 teams) of the men`s basketball tournament graduated 70 percent or more of their White men players, while only 32 percent (20 teams) graduated 70 percent or more of the Black male players, a gap of 26 percent (down from last year`s 31 percent margin). In perhaps the most telling analysis, 88 percent of the schools (50 teams), graduated at least half of their White basketball players but only 50 percent (31 teams) graduated 50 percent or more of their African-American basketball players, creating a 38 percent gap, up from last year`s margin of 26 percent.
"It is important to understand the fact that African-American players graduate at a higher rate than African-American males who are not student-athletes," Lapchick observed. "The graduation rate for African-American male students as a whole is only 38 percent, versus the overall rate of 61 percent for white male students, which is a scandalous 23 percentage point gap. Too many of our predominantly white campuses are not welcoming places for students of color, whether or not they are athletes."
In a report issued in February comparing racial and gender progress in all sports, universities received a C+ for race, lower than the professional sports leagues.
"The primary problem, regarding racial hiring practices, is that whites still dominated key positions," said a racial and gender report card issued by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. "They hold between 88-97 percent of all positions in the following categories in Division I, II and III: university presidents, athletic directors, head coaches, associate athletic directors, faculty and athletics reps, and sport information directors. They hold 100 percent of the conference commissioner positions in Division I excluding Historically Black Colleges and Universities."
Looking that the numbers more closely, universities did the best job hiring Black head coaches in basketball, where they were given a grade of A. In football, by contrast, universities received an F. Of the 120-top division football coaches, only three were Black during the 2007 season, a figure that rose to seven by the end of the 2008 season.
In other key positions, Blacks made up only 7.2 percent of the athletic directors in Division I, 3.8 percent in Division II and 1.8 percent in Division III.
Of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools, formerly known as Division 1A, 111 (92.5 percent) were headed by White presidents. Three - Middle Tennessee State, Ohio University and Washington State University - were headed by Blacks.
Sports Information Directors were described as "one of the whitest positions in all of sports when HBCUs are excluded," the report said. "It is 95.0 percent, 93.4 and 95.0 percent white in Division I, II and III respectively. This is very important because the SID is usually the key decision maker in what and who is publicized among coaches and student-athletes."
As we relax in the afterglow of March Madness, let`s not forget the racial madness that still permeates the highest level of college sports.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com.