Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Basketball Players' Graduation Rates Sink

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Basketball Players' Graduation Rates Sink

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS -- Graduation rates for African American college athletes in both men s and women's basketball sank again, setting off fresh concern that schools care more a winning season than academic excellence.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association reported this month the graduation rate for black male basketball players at the nation's biggest colleges and universities plunged from 37 percent to 33 percent -- the lowest rate since 1985.

That was the year before the NCAA implemented higher eligibility standards for student athletes in hopes that might help the push the graduation rate higher -- a strategy that athletics experts say apparently has failed.

Meanwhile, the graduation rate for women's basketball players who are African American also fell from 55 percent to 49 percent. Nevertheless, that rate still is 8 percent higher than that of the general black female student population.

Those dramatic drops come even as the graduation rate for all student athletes in Division I colleges and universities inched up 1 percent to 58 percent -- better the rate for the overall student population at 56 percent.

"College basketball and football are big-money business," says Charles Farrell, director of Rainbow Sports, a division of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Wall Street Project. "This clearly shows that academics is not part of the business of college sports.

"It also indicates very clearly that the NCAA has concentrated on eligibility requirements rather than on graduation rates," he adds, "and that institutions are not doing enough to help student athletes academically."

NCAA officials deny that they don't emphasis academic performance, pointing to a recent proposal to punish colleges and universities where graduation rates slip by yanking the number of athletic scholarships those schools can offer.

"There's no question about it -- we're concerned. …

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