More bowl-bound Division I football programs are meeting the NCAA’s minimum acceptable academic standards than last year, according to a study released Monday.
The report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida found that of the 64 teams headed for bowls, 73 percent earned recent Academic Progress Rate scores of above 925, which means they would not be subject to NCAA penalties.
In 2006, only 63 percent met the cutoff.
The APR measures athletes’ progress toward graduation. The study used the NCAA’s APR data from the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years.
“While there’s still work to be done, football student-athletes in Division I are doing better academically than in the past,” NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said.
Richard Lapchick, the institute’s director and the report’s primary author, raised concerns about the ongoing gap between the graduation rates of White and Black football players. But he also noted that Black football players are graduating at a greater rate than Black students as a whole.
At 42 percent of the bowl-bound schools, fewer than half of Black football players graduated within six years during the period evaluated. The study looked at the freshman classes that entered from the 1997-98 through the 2000-01 school years.
Navy and Boston College were the two bowl-bound programs with the most impressive APR and graduation rate numbers. Navy, which faces Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl, had an APR of 982, with 95 percent of football players and 89 percent of Black players graduating. Boston College, which meets Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl, had an APR of 976, with 93 percent of football players and 90 percent of Black players graduating.
All eight of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s bowl-bound teams had an APR score above 925.
Three bowl-bound programs had football graduation rates that were higher than that for all their athletes: Cincinnati, TCU and Texas Tech.
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