Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bowl racial dishonor roll

The Arizona Wildcats have the lowest graduation rate for Black athletes in the study.

Tis the season -- of the college football bowl games. And so it is also the season when the annual survey of graduation rates among players from leading college teams by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida gives us the bad news.

As usual, the study highlights how many fewer African-American athletes at the NFL's farm team schools get out with a college degree than do white athletes. The news is not good.

Richard Lapchick, the Director of TIDES noted: "Overall at the 120 [bowl division] schools, 76 percent of white football student athletes graduated versus 59 percent of African-American football student athletes. The 17 percent gap is actually larger than the 14 percent (64 vs. 50 percent) gap reported in the 2007 study. While the gap is larger, it is certainly countered by the good news that it resulted from a 12 percent improvement for whites and a nine percent improvement for African Americans.

"However, it must be noted that African American and white football players graduate at a higher rate than their male non-athletic peers in the student body. The graduation rate for African-American male students as a whole is only 38 percent, in comparison to the 61 percent graduation rate for white male students -- a disgraceful 23 percent gap."

Those are not pretty figures, for the football players or for how Black students fare in general.

Five of the upcoming bowls will feature pairings in which both participants graduate less than 50 percent of African-American players. Here's the dishonor roll (percentage of African American graduates in parentheses).
  • Sugar Bowl -- Utah (45) vs. Alabama (48)
  • Fiesta Bowl -- Ohio State (41) vs. Texas (38)
  • Capital One Bowl -- Georgia (38) vs. Michigan State (43)
  • Chick-fil-A Bowl -- LSU (44) vs. Georgia Tech (36)
  • Insight Bowl -- Kansas (47) vs. Minnesota (40)
Nine bowl schools that graduate less than 50 percent of African-American football players are matched with opponents that do better than that low standard. Will this be an advantage or a disadvantage? Here's that list in descending order of Black graduation percentage: Houston (47), South Florida (46), Oklahoma (45), Boise State (44), Fresno State (43), Oregon (42), Hawaii (40), Nevada (34), and bringing up the rear, Arizona (29).

I greatly enjoy watching college football; I happily consume the entertaining product football bowls offer. But there are lies about education and the opportunities the sport offers to its players deeply embedded in the system. Those lies have a clear racial dimension.

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