While countless Americans bemoaned their busted brackets on the road to the Final Four that winds up here in Minneapolis next week, two elephant-in-the-room issues still get overlooked annually: The players still don’t get a dime of the millions they generate, and the graduation disparity gaps between Black and White male and female basketball players still exist.
Thank goodness Richard Lapchick and his team at The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) stay true to remind us of the latter issue.
The TIDES graduation rates report on this year’s NCAA men’s and women’s tournament teams released last week showed that overall Graduation Success Rates (GSRs) for Black male players is up five percent (from 74 to 79 percent) from a year ago, but overall GSRs for Whites also increased three percent (from 78 to 81 percent) at the same time. The report also points out that the GSR gap between Black and White players has decreased four percent (from 17 to 13). Nonetheless, the disparity still exists.
“[This is] the smallest gap recorded between graduation rates of White and African American male basketball student-athletes since we started issuing the reports more than 16 years ago,” Lapchick wrote in his executive summary.
Minnesota, among the eight Big Ten schools that made the NCAAs, had the worst GSR disparity gap — 63 percent for Blacks and 100 percent for Whites, a 37 percent difference.
Women college basketball players historically post higher GSRs than their male counterparts, graduating at 92 percent, 11 percent better than the 81 percent for men. Yet the graduation disparity gap between Black and White female players persists as well: It grew five percent from last year, 96 percent for Whites and 88 percent for Blacks, an eight percent differential. (The U of M women made the WNIT, and Lapchick doesn’t report on the schools that make the field.)
“Race remains a continuing academic issue,” Lapchick surmised.
Twenty-nine of 64 women’s teams had 100 percent GSRs for both their Black and White players compared to only 16 of 68 men’s teams. Four schools posted both their teams with 100 percent GSRs.
The entire TIDES report can be found at www.tiedsport.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.