CHARLOTTE — For the month of March, college basketball reigns supreme.
Buzzer-beaters. Upsets. Comebacks. We get a little bit of it all.
Eventually the games end. When they do, college basketball players become just college students again. After four years of that, they hopefully become college graduates.
But an annual study conducted by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida found an “unacceptable” gap when it studied the graduation rates of players from NCAA tournament teams.
According to the study, there is an 18 percent gap in the graduation rates of African-American and white players. That margin is tied for the lowest it has been since TIDES began conducting this study more than 15 years ago, but the gap still remains.
Last year, the percentage gap between white and black NCAA tournament players was 19 percent.
“The most troubling statistics in our annual studies have been the large disparity between the GSR (Graduation Success Rates) of white basketball student-athletes and African-American basketball student-athletes” Dr. Richard Lapchik, the primary author of the study, said in a statement. “Although it has shown a decrease of one percentage point this year, a gap of 18 percent remains unacceptable.”
According to the NCAA, GSR tracks degree-completion for student-athletes, even those who transfer.
The study also found that overall graduation rates among players from NCAA tournament teams this year are up 2 percent, 76 to 78 percent overall, compared to last season.
Factors that influence GSR are players leaving school early to play professionally (with emphasis on the ‘one-and-done’ rule) or leaving their universities altogether, whether for personal or disciplinary reasons.
Since 2013, just over 90 percent of freshmen selected in the NBA draft were non-white.
Still, the graduation gap remains between white and black players on March Madness teams.
“This decrease is a positive sign following last year’s findings where the discrepancy increased for the first time since the 2011 season,” Lapchik said. “I hope to see this year’s progress continue into the years to come until we eliminate this gap between the two groups of student-athletes.”