White-Black grad gaps among some schools ‘alarming’


U of M gap still has room for improvement

First of two parts

SOECharlesHallmansquareMinnesota (5-7) is among the 80 football teams picked to play in a bowl game this year. The Gophers will play Central Michigan in downtown Detroit December 28.

The annual bowl-bound academic report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) released last week shows that college football players’ academic success this year remained the same as last, but “the substantial gap between White and African American football student-athletes grew and remained large.”

The average Graduate Success Rate (GSR) for Black football players at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools dropped from 67 percent in 2014 to 66 percent in 2015, while White GSRs remain at 85 percent. The Black-White gap increased to 19 percentage points.

“The size of the gap among some schools is alarming,” states the report.

The MSR annually looks at the TIDES report, and with each report, we dig a little deeper:

  • 35 schools graduate Blacks at least 20 percentage points lower than Whites.
  • 26 schools graduate Blacks 10-20 points lower than Whites.
  • 14 schools graduate Blacks at least 30 points lower than Whites.
  • 10 schools have Black-White gaps under 10 percentage points
  • Five schools have Black players’ GSR higher than their White teammates, but this is down from nine schools in 2014.

The Gophers’ Black-White GSR gap is 14 percentage points (63 percent for its Black players and 77 percent for its White players).

Because only 77 teams this season had NCAA minimum six wins, and 80 spots needed to be filled, teams with 5-7 overall records would be considered for bowl selection if their overall Academic Progress Rates were good. As a result, Missouri declined a bowl invite but Minnesota, Nebraska (five percentage points) and San Jose State (14 percentage points), all with relatively low Black-White gaps, did accept invitations last week.

(Beth Goetz courtesy of U of M; Photo of U of M President Eric Kaler by Charles Hallman)
(Beth Goetz photo (left) courtesy of U of M; Photo of U of M President Eric Kaler by Charles Hallman)


Admittedly the gap at Minnesota has lowered; it nonetheless shouldn’t be and can’t be ignored despite the efforts by local mainstream media and most Gopher football fans to do so.   The MSR talked about this with both Interim Athletics Director Beth Goetz and President Eric Kaler while on campus last week.

“While we certainly applaud some of the strides we have made, there’s still work to do,” said Goetz. “Until the day that we have all of our student athletes from all backgrounds graduating in an appropriate amount of time, I think there always will be room for improvement. There’s nothing more important than [student athletes] getting their education and getting their degrees.”

Added Kaler, “There is a gap between Black and White students’ graduation rates, whether athletes or non-athletes. We are working at the University to address that in a variety of ways. We are not where we need to be until there is a quality and achievement of all our athletes and all of our students regardless of the color of their skin.”

“We can do better,” pledged Goetz.

Central Michigan’s GSR gap, however, is twice as bad as Minnesota’s — Blacks at 47 percent and Whites at 79 percent, for 32 percentage points. And Michigan State (50 percentage points difference), followed by Iowa (46 points) and Akron (46 points), ranks among the worst among this year’s bowl teams.

“The gap between the GSR of African American and White players at Michigan State is striking,” notes TIDES Director Richard Lapchick, the study’s primary author.

Despite their sub-.500 record, the Minnesota players deserve a post-season opportunity to try for a season-ending win. “It’s a good reward for the team, to be rewarded for their academic achievements,” said Goetz of the Detroit bowl game.


Next week: more about the Gophers’ upcoming bowl appearance. Check the MSR website for more on the recently released Gopher Athletics external review and internal financial audit.

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