The gap in graduation rates between black and white NCAA men’s Division I basketball players is widening.
A recent study conducted by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida shows that while overall graduation rates for basketball teams increased, the disparity between the graduation rates among players of the two races also increased by 4 percentage points from last year’s report.
Eighty-four percent of white men’s Division I basketball players and 56 percent of black players graduated in the latest study numbers, according to Richard Lapchick, author of the study and director of the institute.
The numbers measure only those who are in poor academic standing when they leave the university.
In response to this disparity, the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous and Lapchick held a joint press conference last week to address the problem and suggest ways to close the gap.
The main suggestion offered by the conference was that teams that are unable to graduate at least 40 percent of players should be barred from post-season play.
John Blanchard, senior associate athletic director at UNC, said that using the 40 percent rule is impractical because those rates are based on students who have already graduated or left, and therefore punish the wrong students.
Brad Berndt, associate athletic director at Duke University, said the graduation rates at Duke contradict the study. Black student athletes have higher graduation rates than whites.
Both athletic directors also said the drop-out rates could be attributed to traditional reasons such as students coming to college unprepared, low socioeconomic status and being first-generation college students.
“We’re not especially conscious of race when we provide academic support,” Blanchard said.
UNC treats students on a case-by-case basis and looks into individual situations, he said.
Much of the responsibility for the low graduation rates falls on the respective institutions, according to the conference.
Blanchard said that if graduation rates are consistently low, the institution is not doing its job properly.
“You have to have leadership that provides the time and the support for the student athletes to be successful academically,” he said.
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