Teams in the NCAA basketball tournament kicking off tonight put very different numbers on the board when it comes to graduation rates. A study by the University of Central Florida shows among the four No. 1 seeds, North Carolina has the highest graduation rate for its players (86%), while Connecticut is the laggard (33%). Louisville graduates 42% of its athletes; Pitt 69%.
“The study also found that fewer tournament teams have failing Academic Progress Rates than last year,” the AP reports. “Twenty-one of the 65 tournament teams have APR scores under 925, the cutoff below which the NCAA can penalize schools. Last year, 35 teams had APR scores below 925.” Forty of the 65 teams in the tourney have graduation rates of at least 50 percent, based on the number of freshmen who entered school between the 1998-99 and 2001-02 school years earned diplomas within six years.
Seven teams had a 100 percent graduation rate: Binghamton, Florida State, Marquette, Robert Morris, Utah State, Wake Forest and Western Kentucky.
On the women’s side, the picture is much different – and brighter. Fourteen women’s basketball teams in the NCAA tournament have perfect graduation rates, including top-seeded Connecticut. The other schools with 100 percent graduation rates are DePaul, Evansville, Florida, Lehigh, Marist, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Sacred Heart, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Vanderbilt and Villanova.
The Boston Globe says the graduation rates for somee schools are so bad — especially for black athletes — that they shouldn’t be in the tournament at all.
On paper, the top 16 seeds have an average graduation rate of 53 percent for black players. But eight of those 16 are so bad, their average graduation rate for black players is 32 percent. Those teams include five of the top eight seeds: UConn, Louisville, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Memphis.
“We will know the world is truly changing,” the paper notes ”when politicians write letters and make statements that embarrassing graduation rates for their flagship university basketball team are unacceptable.”