By Aaron Beard,
AP Basketball Writer
A diversity report for graduation rates among this year’s NCAA Tournament teams found the gap between White and Black men’s players has shrunk compared to last season.
The study released March 16 from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida found that racial gap in average Graduation Success Rate (GSR) scores had declined from about 13.4 percentage points last year to 11.4 this season. That was due to gains by Black players (up 3.4 percentage points to 83.7%) outpacing those by White players (up 1.3, to 95.1%),
“The gap has frequently narrowed, and especially on the men’s side, when the White graduation rate went down rather than the Black graduation rate going up,” institute director and lead report author Richard Lapchick told The Associated Press. “So the fact that this went up is really an important thing to note for the Black student-athletes.”
The racial gap also exists on the women’s side, but is smaller.
This year’s gap 6.3 percentage points and was only slightly higher than last season (6.1), with White women’s players up to 98.8% this year and Black women’s players up to 92.5%.
As an example, the study found that 10 men’s teams had White players ahead of Black players in graduation rates by a gap of at least 30 percentage points. UCLA, which reached last year’s Final Four, had the biggest at 71 percentage points, while the list included a No. 1 seed in Arizona, Saint Mary’s and Indiana all at 50.
By comparison, only four women’s teams in this year’s tournament field fit that category: Mount St. Mary’s (40), Arkansas (37), UNLV (37) and Utah (33).
Women continue to outperform men in average GSR, though the gender gap shrunk significantly from 10.7 percentage points last year to 6.7, with women at 93.9% and men at 87.2%. Lapchick noted, though, that the women have less room to improve with their routinely higher scores.
“The gap has narrowed, so that’s somewhat encouraging,” Lapchick said. “But it always says to me that the emphasis has been much stronger on the women’s side. I think it’s gotten stronger on the men’s side as they’ve realized with academic reforms they could not make postseason play.”
The study looked primarily at the GSR, which was developed to allow the NCAA to track the progress of Division I student-athletes for six years following their entrance to schools. GSR doesn’t penalize schools for athletes who leave in good academic standing and counts transfers at their new schools, while a federal graduation rate would consider them non-graduates and doesn’t factor in those common roster movements.