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December 3, 2012

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Academic progress high for bowl-bound teams

(Continued)

ORLANDO, Fla. —

Lapchick noted that across the NCAA, African-American football players graduate at higher rates than male African-American students as a whole. Another study released Monday, though, found less success by that measure among schools in the six BCS automatic qualifying conferences.

The report from the Penn Graduate School of Education Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education looked at all athletes at those schools, not just football players. Using federal graduation rates, it found that at those schools, 50.2 percent of African-American male athletes graduated within six years, compared with 55.5 percent of African-American undergraduate men.

The GSR measures graduation rates of Division I schools after four years and includes students transferring into the institutions. The GSR also allows schools to subtract athletes who leave before graduation, as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete if they remained.

At the bowl-bound schools, 66 of 70, or 94 percent, had at least a 50 percent GSR for their football teams. That's down from 97 percent in 2011, though Lapchick praised the high figure.

While the racial gap is a complex issue, Lapchick said, small things can make a difference.

"I think you continue to apply as many resources as you can, but (universities) also have to engage the public school systems where they are," he said. "Now you see student-athletes volunteering in their communities, which is something that hasn't always been the case.

"If those resources were directed at middle schools and elementary schools, then their leadership could help young people at those schools and inspire them to plot an academic course for their future so that they will have more opportunities."

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