Who qualifies for Disparity Bowl 2014?

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The University of Minnesota has the 11th-worst graduation gap between Black and White football players among the 76 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools playing in this year’s bowl games.

According to a study by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) using 2012-13 NCAA statistics released Monday, the Gophers, who are scheduled to play Missouri January 1 in the Citrus Bowl, have a 32 percent graduation gap — 52 percent for its Black players as opposed to 84 percent for its White players. Minnesota is one of 15 schools whose Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for Black football players is at least 30 percentage points lower than for White players.

TIDES Director Dr. Richard Lapchick noted in his annual “Keeping Score When It Counts” report on bowl teams that the “substantial gap between White and African American football student-athletes remained large” despite a slight increase in the overall athlete GSR for the bowl-bound teams from a year ago from 72 percent in 2013 to 73 percent this year.

Florida State’s 43 percentage gap between its Black players (57 percent) and its White players (100 percent) is the worst, although Blacks there nevertheless graduate at a higher rate than at the U of M.

“The gap between White and African American football student-athletes continues to be a major issue standing at 18 percent this year,” continues Lapchick. “Among the 75 bowl-bound teams, the average GSR for African American student-athletes is 67 percent, up from 65 percent in 2013. The average GSR for White football student-athletes is 85 percent, up from 84 percent in 2013. It must be emphasized that African American and White football players graduate at a higher rate than their male non-athletic peers in the student body.”

 Dr. Richard Lapchick MSR file photo
Dr. Richard Lapchick
MSR file photo

However, according to Lapchick’s findings, the Gophers Black football players graduate at least 15 percent lower than the average GSR for Black student-athletes, while the school’s White football players’ rate is a percentage point lower than the average White football student-athletes’.

The U of M’s overall student-athlete GSR across all sports is 89 percent.

Penn State, with both Black and White players graduating at 88 percent, had the smallest disparity gap (zero percent) while five schools posted higher GSRs for Blacks than Whites: Stanford, Air Force and Rice (100 percent), Notre Dame (97 percent) and Duke (93 percent).

Arizona (82 percent Black, 63 percent White) posted the largest disparity gap (19 percent) in which Black players’ GSRs were higher than White players’.

The five schools with the lowest GSRs for its Black players are BYU (33 percent), Central Michigan (41 percent), Southern Cal (43 percent), Mississippi (44 percent), Southern Cal (45 percent), and Texas (48 percent).

While sports yakkers and other mainstream media types debate the merits of the first-ever FBS playoffs, the discussion has ignored the fact that all four teams have disparity gaps — Florida State (43 percent), Alabama (24 percent), Oregon and Ohio State (both at 23 percent) — while their White players are graduating at rates higher than 80 percent — Florida State’s at 100 percent, 96 percent for Alabama, Ohio State at 91 percent, and 83 percent for Oregon.

The four schools, while competing for a berth in the national championship game, could compete for a mythical “disparity bowl” title as well.

“Stanford, Rice, Notre Dame and Air Force would have played for the National Championship if there was a college football playoff based on Graduation Success Rates among bowl teams,” notes Lapchick. “All these teams graduate at least 93 percent of all football student-athletes and at least 97 percent of African-American football student athletes.”

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.