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TIDES Report: Women’s Basketball Student-Athletes Continue to Outperform Their Male Counterparts

In a new report released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida, noted that women’s basketball student-athletes showed consistently stellar results.

 â€śKeeping Score When It Counts: Academic Progress/Graduation Success Rate Study of the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament Teams,” provides a comprehensive analysis of the academic performance of student-athletes on teams competing in the 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, which commence this week. It examines the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and Academic Progress Rates (APR) as reported by the NCAA.

Dr. Adrien BouchetDr. Adrien Bouchet“The women outperform the men, but it’s really the fact that women collegiate basketball players perform at a huge level academically and athletically,” said Dr. Adrien Bouchet, director of TIDES. “There was only one team that fell below the NCAA standard.”

Overall, the GSR of men’s teams showed a slight decline from 2023 to present, from 84.9% to 84%. The women’s teams showed an overall increase from 93.8% in 2023 to 95.9% in 2024. White female basketball student-athletes graduated at a rate of 97.8% compared to Black female student-athletes at 95%.

The average GSR for Black male basketball student-athletes rose from 81.4% to 84.2%, while the average GSR of white male student-athletes fell from 95.4% in 2023 to 89.7% in 2024. This led to the narrowing of the gap in GSR between white and Black student-athletes.

“The disparity between white and Black men’s basketball players closed, but unfortunately it closed because the white basketball players’ graduation rate fell,” said Bouchet. “You really have to look at the data over time and see if that continues next year to see if you have a trend. It’s still surprising.”

In terms of APR, there was only one women’s team this year that fell below the 930 benchmark, scoring 926. There were three men’s teams that fell below 930, scoring 913, 924, and 924. The men’s basketball program at five schools had a GSR below 60%. Bouchet noted that, surprisingly, this included high profile programs such as University of Oregon, University of Texas at Austin, and University of Arizona.

“These schools have plenty of resources that should not ever take place,” said Bouchet.

Amanda DiDonato, senior associate director of academic support services at Seton Hall University, a Division I institution that is not in either NCAA tournament this year but has previously sent teams to both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments, said the school utilizes a structured study hall for freshmen and transfers. Student-athletes meet with their advisor or tutor, creating individualized study plans when needed.

“We think this helps them with staying on path, keeping them organized and making sure that they are checking off the boxes of what they need to get done for their academic requirements,” DiDonato said. As student-athletes progress and show successful academic progress, they are not required to report in as frequently. Even when student-athletes are no longer having regular meetings, individuals with academic support services touch base with faculty and coaching staff.

“It really is a team effort from the administrators, our academic advising team to the coaches, sports medicine and the players,” said DiDonato. “We try to create a holistic approach in order to help our student-athletes succeed in the classroom.”

South Dakota State University stood out for excellence, being the only school competing in the men’s and women’s tournaments that achieved a 100% graduation rate for both.

In 2024, 67 of 68 women’s teams in the tournament graduated at least 80% of their basketball student-athletes. All the teams graduated at least 70%. Among the men’s teams, 55 graduated 70% or more. That is a 19.1 percentage-point gap between women’s and men’s programs.

TIDES breaks out tournament leaders based on academics into a Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four based on GSR and APR. The men’s champion is University of Alabama, which has a 1000 APR and 100% graduation among both Black and white basketball student-athletes.

TIDES could not go beyond a Sweet 16 for the women as 12 schools had 100% graduation rates for both Black and white student-athletes and 13 schools had APRs of 1000.

Heather Vulin, head women’s basketball coach at Manhattan College, a Division I institution, is not surprised by such success on women’s teams. For her, it begins with recruiting student-athletes who care about academics.

“For the women, unfortunately there are not a lot of professional playing opportunities,” Vulin said. “Our women understand that they have this window of when they get to play, but once they’re done playing, they’ve got the next 40 years of life. … To be successful at the Division I level, you can’t just be a good basketball player. The women have embraced that.”

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