NCAA grad rates up, racial gap narrowing


The overall NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for college football players of bowl-bound teams “substantially” improved from last season, especially the long-standing racial gap, says the latest “Keeping Score When It Comes” report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES).

The overall GSR is 81.3%, up from 78 percent in 2020, reported TIDES Director Richard Lapchick on the Dec. 7 report. Yet he quickly pointed out that the Black-White graduation gap, although closer, still exists: 78% for Black players and nearly 90% for White players. 

“While the gap between White and Black football student-athletes decreased this year,” he wrote in the report’s executive summary, “the gap this year is 11.7 percent, down from 16.3 percent last year. It continues to be a major issue.”

“This is a snapshot in time,” Lapchick told the MSR last week. “I’ve been told by people on campus that students, in general, are spending more time in their studies than they have in the past because they had a lot more normal lives” after the pandemic-affected 2020 year on college campuses nationwide.

Charles Hallman/MSR News Dr. Richard Lapchick

The Big Ten has the highest GSR for Black football players with multiple schools in bowls this season. Minnesota is among seven Big Ten schools in bowls this year, which includes Michigan in the national championship semifinals.  

The Gophers, scheduled to play West Virginia in Phoenix on Dec. 28, has a 93% graduation rate for its Black players but 100% for its White players. “Minnesota is doing so well in terms of closing the gap here,” said Lapchick.

Big Ten Black coaches

Today there are five Black head coaches in Big Ten men’s basketball, a 100 percent improvement from five years ago when there were none.

“The Big Ten and Minnesota has the right guy here,” said Michigan State’s Tom Izzo on first-year Gopher HC Ben Johnson, one of four first-year coaches in the conference. The other Black coaches are Micah Shrewsberry (Penn State), Mike Woodson (Indiana), Danny Manning (Maryland), and Juwan Howard, now in his third season at Michigan. 

There are two Black women head coaches in the conference: C. Vivian Stringer (on health leave) and Marisa Moseley, who’s in her first season at Wisconsin.

“I know what it’s like to be a first-year head coach,” said Izzo, who’s been State head coach since 1995. Like Johnson, the Hall of Fame coach’s first head coaching opportunity occurred in the Big Ten. 

“To do that in the Big Ten is not easy,” he recalled. “I want him to do well. It will be good for the Big Ten.”

After speaking to reporters following the Spartans’ win over Minnesota last week, Izzo told the MSR, “Micah at Penn State is really good. Juwan has already proven himself. Ben is going to be a great addition because he’s a good guy and he is going to do it the right way.”

For the record, Johnson is now 2-0 against teams coached by Blacks (Jacksonville, Michigan).

“It is cool,” Johnson responded to this reporter’s question after last Saturday’s win, “to see two prestigious schools have two minority coaches. We are just trying to continue to do our job, leading the right way, molding these men the right way and having success on the court. Hopefully, if we continue to do that, it will open doors for other people.” 

WNBA schedule

The WNBA released its 2022 regular-season schedule, which will feature a record-high 36 games per team.

All 12 clubs will tip-off on Friday, May 6, and will conclude their 26th season on Sunday, Aug. 14, followed by the playoffs. Minnesota will open at Seattle.

The Commissioner’s Cup, which was first introduced last season, will return. It’s an in-season tournament pitting conference rivals against each other during the first half of the regular season in 10 designated “Cup games” per team. 

The team from each conference with the top record in Cup games will compete for the Cup on July 26. Seattle won it last season, coached by Noelle Quinn, one of three Black female HCs.