NCAA’s Racial Disparity in Graduation Rates: Just One of the Many Problems with This System

NCAA grad rate racial disparity is out of bounds

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida told us, once again, what most of us already knew: Black Division I men’s basketball players are lagging behind white student athletes when it comes to graduation rates. Although the study cites a long-term increase in the graduation rates of both groups, African-American males are still pulling up the rear.

So, what do we make of these disparities? Well, most casual observers of sport know that the graduation gap is a persistent part of collegiate athletics, and not a problem that is taken very seriously. We’ve come to expect that the white guys are the ones who walk away with access and opportunity while many of the black athletes, unfortunately, get about 10 seconds of fame and a lifetime of regrets. Even when these black male former athletes show up to their alma maters seeking jobs as coaches, they are typically rejected.

Disproportionate sampling may also play a role in the gap. In a recent ESPN documentary about the Fab Five at The University of Michigan, Jalen Rose mentions the widely-known practice of allowing white guys with goodGPAs and perhaps family connections to become bench warmers in order to help maintain the team grade point average. Nobody cares about who rides the end of the bench. They only pay their millions to see the men (typically black) who are dunking the basketballs and scoring all the points.

 

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