Just 10 percent of The Ohio State University’s men’s basketball players received degrees at the school, according to a study that examined the freshman classes entering from 1996-1999.
Taking into account players who transfer, enter from junior colleges and are graduated late, only 38 percent of Buckeyes basketball players earned degrees during that period, Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, said Monday.
Ohio State enters this year’s NCAA tournament as the nation’s top-ranked team.
“The supposed Final Four, the top seeds, are a real disparity there. Two of the schools, Florida and North Carolina, have really good graduation rates, and Kansas and Ohio State don’t have such good graduation rates,” Lapchick said. “That’s certainly an issue.”
John Bruno, Ohio State’s faculty representative for athletics, says there has been substantial turnover of staff, support personnel and coaches since Randy Ayers (1990-1997) and Jim O’Brien (1998-2004) coached the team. Bruno says player academic support has improved.
“My intent is not to apologize for numbers that I as a faculty member think are not high enough,” he says. “We’re not happy with these numbers, but we’ve got programs in place that are going to ensure that those numbers rise over time.”
Under the formula of Federal Graduation Rates, no basketball player from NCAA-bound Florida A&M University, Eastern Kentucky University or the University of Oregon received a degree from those four freshman classes, Lapchick’s study said.
Using the yardstick Graduation Success Rates, which accounts for players who transfer to other schools and receive degrees, players entering from junior colleges and those who receive degrees more than six years after enrollment, 9 percent of FAMU players, 19 percent of Eastern Kentucky and 50 percent of Oregon players were graduated, according to the study, written by Lapchick and Maria Bustamante.
Lapchick says the study found that while graduation rates are improving, there remains a huge gap between the figures for Black and White basketball players.
Other NCAA tournament-bound programs with low FGRs were: the University of Tennessee (8 percent), the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (10 percent), the University of Maryland (13 percent), Texas A&M University (15 percent), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (17 percent), Gonzaga University and the University of Louisville (22 percent), Georgia Tech, the University of Kentucky and Oral Roberts University (23 percent), the University of Memphis, North Texas University and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (25 percent).
Based on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate scores from last year, Lapchick says FAMU, New Mexico State University and Texas A&M could be subject to loss of basketball scholarships next year.
At the other end, the schools with the highest FGRs were Holy Cross College (86 percent), Butler University (82 percent), Creighton University (78 percent), Davidson College and Michigan State University (75 percent). The Air Force Academy and the University of Pennsylvania did not report FGRs.
According to the study, based on the GSR formula, 68 percent of teams bound for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament graduated 70 percent or more of their White players, but just 30 percent graduated 70 percent or more of Black players. While 76 percent of White basketball players receive degrees, just 51 percent of Black players do.
“I think that the goal had been 50 percent. That was considered a good graduation rate,” Lapchick says. “But I think there are so many schools that have a 60, 70 percent rate, that I would recommend that we raise it, the 60-to-70 percent rate be considered the new standard of what’s good.”
Lapchick says 41 Division I schools, including seven headed to the tournament, didn’t graduate any Black players. Twenty-one schools, including tournament-bound Eastern Kentucky, didn’t graduate any White players.
— Associated Press
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