Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Black Male Student-Athletes Still Face Harsh Inequities

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Black Male Student-Athletes Still Face Harsh Inequities

Article excerpt

A report from the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center spotlights the pervasive disparities between graduation rates for Black male student-athletes, student-athletes in general and Black undergraduate men overall.

In a recent study titled "Black Male Student-Athletes and Racial Inequities in NCAA Division I College Sports," Dr. Shaun R. Harper examines data from the 65 universities that comprise the Power Five conferences in Division I intercollegiate athletics. As was discovered in other reports, center founder and executive director Harper identified racial inequities in six-year graduation rates and noted that institutional leaders, the NCAA and conference commissioners have done little in response.

"The durability of these inequities doesn't surprise me," said Harper, who also serves as the Clifford and Betty Allen Chair in Urban Leadership and Provost Professor in the Rossier School of Education and Marshall School of Business at USC. "Simply knowing they exist is only half the battle. Doing something about them is the more important imperative, and it is very clear to me that colleges and universities, especially the athletics departments, don't have strategies for dealing with and correcting these racial inequities."

Beyond strategy, he added, "we also have to see these young men as people, not just as revenue-generators or as property for the institution."

Harper wrote that he is astonished that the American public, which includes current and former Black student-athletes, journalists and Black communities, seem to accept the racial inequities as normal. With this report, he endeavored to create greater awareness of the extent to which college sports persistently disadvantage Black male student-athletes.

The report is based on statistics from the NCAA Federal Graduation Rates Database. One limitation is that those numbers do not account for transfer students.

A vital statistic to keep in mind is that Black men comprised just 2.4 percent of undergraduate students at the 65 universities in the Power Five but made up 55 percent of their football teams and 56 percent of their basketball teams.

A notable finding is that 55.2 percent of Black male student-athletes graduated within six years compared to 69.3 percent of student-athletes overall, 60.1 percent of Black male undergraduates overall and 76.3 percent of all undergraduates.

University of Miami, Georgia Tech, University of Arizona and Vanderbilt University graduated Black male student-athletes at rates equal to or higher than student-athletes overall.

Over the last two years, graduation rates for Black male student-athletes have increased by an average of 2.5 percentage points within the Power Five conferences, which is greater than the increase in graduation rates for student-athletes overall and Black undergraduate men overall. …

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