“We don’t want to talk them out of their dreams; we just want to give them some reality, too.”

You know, there’s much to criticize about how schools blow smoke about how college athletics is merely an extension of their academic mission, so pointing out the hypocrisies embedded in the current arrangement is justified.  But it seems to me some of the anger coming out of this study is misplaced.

Young black men playing basketball and football for the country’s top college teams are graduating at lower rates than black male students at the same schools — despite having financial and academic support that removes common hurdles preventing many undergraduates from earning degrees, a new report has found.

While 58 percent of black male undergraduates at the 65 schools in the Power 5 conferences got degrees within six years, 54 percent of black male student-athletes at the same schools graduated, according to an analysis of the 2014-15 academic year by University of Pennsylvania researcher Shaun Harper.

Harper said the graduation gap represents a wide and systemic issue worse than isolated scandals seen on individual campuses.

“It happens just about everywhere,” said Harper, director of Penn’s Center for Race and Equity in Education. “Generations of young black men and their parents and families are repeatedly duped by a system that lies to them about what their life chances are and what their athletic outcomes are likely to be.”

You’re starting with the wrong system, man.  Start with high schools that are woefully resourced for the purpose of preparing these kids for college.  And as far as their parents and families go, well, they don’t have the excuse of youthful inexperience to fall back on.  So why aren’t they doing more proactively before their children are misled?

That being said, I don’t disagree with this:

“When coaches are looking for the best athletic talent, that’s what they’re looking for,” Harper said. “They’re not really concerned with academic talent.”

And why should they be, when the system doesn’t incentivize them to do so?  But if that’s not where their focus lies, who’s there to see to it that the schools’ proclaimed devotion to the academic life aren’t just empty words?

One thing I do give the NCAA credit for was its decision to stiffen core eligibility standards in high school curriculum.  But those are new and we won’t see their effect for a few years.  In the meantime, more finger pointing is in order, I suppose.

50 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., Life After Football

50 responses to ““We don’t want to talk them out of their dreams; we just want to give them some reality, too.”

  1. rchris

    Athletes can have lower test scores and grades and still get into these universities. That alone would lead one to expect a lower graduation rate.

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    • JCDAWG83

      This is the root of the problem. Kids in middle and high school are told if they work to excel at sports, they can get into college and become professional sports millionaires and they don’t have to concern themselves with school and grades except on a minimal level. If the NCAA would mandate that kids must have grades and test scores that would first allow them to be admitted to a college before they could receive an athletic scholarship, the disparity would disappear.

      I would guess the graduation rates for members of the tennis, golf, gymnastics, track, equestrian and other sports besides football and men’s basketball track pretty closely to the overall graduation rate.

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  2. Are they taking into account that a lot of these kids are leaving for NFL after 3 years in college? Hell 3/4’s of Kentucky’s basketball team leaves after 1 year in school. Those kids have very little interest in getting a degree and only attend college because the leagues, NFL & NBA, won’t allow folks straight out of high school to play.

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    • They are taking them into account and your point way off base. There are 15,170 Division 1 football players. 96 Juniors have declared for the 2016 NFL Draft. That is 0.6% of players leaving early. Even, it is only 2.5% of Junior players.

      48 college players declared for the 2015 NBA draft which is just .875% of the 5485 Division 1 Men’s Basketball players.

      The graduation rate of football and basketball players is not really being affected by the handful of guys leaving early for the professional ranks.

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  3. DawgPhan

    4% in one year doesnt really seem like that much of a difference.

    Not enough to really get worked up about.

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    • JCDAWG83

      If all students had access to the tutors, mentors, etc the athletes have, the regular student graduation rate would be in the upper 90% range.

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      • W Cobb Dawg

        Not to mention the financial aspects. A lot of the non-scholly students are signing away much of their future for student loans. The idea that many students come from affluence and don’t have problems making payments is b.s.

        I never had problems making the grades. I tried the student loan scam for one quarter (we had quarters back then, not semesters) and immediately knew it wasn’t for me. So I paid as I went and the costs were the a constant sword hanging over my head.

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  4. The other doug

    Special snowflakes can be athletes too!

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  5. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    Did I read that right? black males generally graduate at a rate of 58% within 6 years, and black male athletes specifically graduate at a rate of 54% within 6 years?

    That is an awfully narrow difference between the two. I’d assume the study controlled for early departures, whether for the draft or kicked out of school. Even so, at UGA, there are probably around 100 black student athletes on scholarship, so we’re talking about 4 students total, which in the last 6 years would include a Cootie Harrow.

    For me, the shocking information is that the overall black student body graduates at 58% over 6 years. That seems astonishingly low to my untrained eye.

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    • Russ

      What’s the graduation rate for all students? I wouldn’t think it would be much over 60-65%, but I’m just guessing here.

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      • JCDAWG83

        Georgia’s graduation rate in 6 years is 85%.

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      • Russ

        The nice Google lady told me the 6 year graduation rate for all colleges/students is 59%.

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        • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

          If UGA’s overall 6 year graduation # is around 85% as others googled(I assume they are correct), and the national average is around 59%(again as others stipulated), then that does make it astonishing to me that black males are graduating at 58%, which is an enormous difference with their common peers within this University. Can’t really compare across all universities as the quality of student varies so greatly across the 25+% of americans that pursue post-secondary education.

          From an entirely apolitical perspective, it saddens me that a bloc of UGA students is not achieving their dreams within the UGA community at such a rate, whatever the cause.

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    • DawgPhan

      some quick googling…

      looks like UGA is a 83% 6 year grad rate, but nationally that is closer to 58%.

      So the rate for african americans graduating in 6 years is in line with the overall national average. it isnt great, but it doesnt seem astonishingly low.

      “Among first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree- granting institution in fall 2007, the 6-year graduation rate was 58 percent at public institutions, 65 percent at private nonprofit institutions, and 32 percent at private for-profit institutions.”

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  6. doofusdawg

    “removes common hurdles”… boy if that isn’t a mouth full.

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  7. This “study” doesn’t look to be anything statistically significant. I would certainly like to see if the raw data included early departures for whatever reason. Senator, your key point in rebutting the argument of this researcher is high school preparation, which is becoming worse & worse (I’m not going to turn this into a political discussion today), is right on. I would add parental involvement (which in public schools is woefully lacking regardless of your school district and socioeconomic situation).

    The fact that fewer than 3 out of 5 black males who attend college actually get a degree within 6 years is the statistic that pops out at me (like SDD above). I don’t know what the broader population statistics show, but that tells me there’s a more fundamental problem at work here. That problem isn’t about whether college coaches are selling educational snake oil to their potential recruits.

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  8. DawgPhan

    so many little nuggets in this.

    That graduation rate for private for-profit schools @ 32% means most of the kids taking out loans for those degrees are getting nothing in return.

    Also remember that we are still in the second generation or so of african americans who could actually attend most of these power 5 schools. Things are a little different when you have 100’s of years worth of UGA experience in your family to draw from as opposed to maybe 1 or 2 people in your extended family have attended one of these institutions.

    Also consider that this country incarcerates african american men at much higher rates than other groups.

    Anyway, I am hope that graduation rates continue to improve for all groups and that UGA specifically continues to work towards graduating all of the student athletes.

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    • AthensHomerDawg

      Also consider…that Asians graduation rates are higher than any other group in the country. And have more advanced degrees than any other group as well.
      I wonder why that is?

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    • paul

      And the for profit schools tend to charge anywhere from 3 to 5 times the tuition rate of not for profits. So, those not graduating not only DON’T have a degree, they DO have much higher debt than other students.

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    • JCDAWG83

      Also consider that black males commit crimes at a much higher rate than other groups. Black males make up around 6% of the total population, yet commit about half the violent crimes and more than half the murders. The simple solution to the rate of incarceration of black males is for them to stop committing crimes at such a high rate.

      Making academics a priority over athletics in middle and high school is the only way to change the cause of the problem. A basic truth of life is; people will do what they have to do. If the path to a lucrative NFL or NBA career requires athletes making the grades to get in college, the athletes will make the grades. As long as the NFL and NBA and the NCAA provide a path to riches in pro sports that does not require more than mediocre academic accomplishment, that is what athletes will continue to do.

      Because of the huge amount of money in college sports, the athletic programs will never, on their own, demand higher academic standards. Only the NCAA can bring about the change by making higher academic standards mandatory for all programs.

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      • The simple solution to the rate of incarceration of black males is for them to stop committing crimes at such a high rate.

        The problem with that thinking is that you seem to believe there’s some magic wand fix to lowering crime rates (i.e. just stop doing it). Of course that would be fantastic, but that doesn’t really address why the crime rate is so high and isn’t exactly a realistic solution. Crime rates by groups of people generally correlate to socioeconomic status and poverty rates. The Census Bureau did a study covering 2007-2011 and observed that, as a whole, 14.3% of American families had incomes below the poverty level, yet black families had incomes below the poverty level at 25.8%.

        The problem with this discussion is that it’s easy (lazy?) to couch it in terms of prisons built and police officers hired as a solution to the crime problem. The real challenge is figuring out why one group of Americans lives in poverty at twice the rate of America as a whole. Solve that problem and the crime problem takes care of itself.

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        • “The real challenge is figuring out why one group of Americans lives in poverty at twice the rate of America as a whole. Solve that problem and the crime problem takes care of itself.”

          Audit, that’s a question that has a lot of tentacles to it, and many of those tentacles are politically incorrect and extremely politically charged.

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          • Oh – I’m well aware and I don’t profess to have any more real answers than the next guy about how you figure out why poverty afflicts certain groups of Americans more than others. I just think not addressing the cause of crime and instead allocating resources towards fighting via law enforcement is attacking the wrong symptom of the disease, but I also acknowledge there might not be a more feasible solution.

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            • Oh, I think the solution is a mix of the two, but some people have to admit some problems in society that many don’t want to talk about.

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              • DawgPhan

                …and some people should admit that the government flooding minority neighborhoods with cocaine and then declaring war on them probably didnt help build and strengthen communities.

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  9. Savdog

    “high schools woefully resourced…” USA is in the top 5 in the world in monies spent per student for high school education. Now, the curriculum may be crap but the money is there…

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    • That’s correct. Money isn’t the problem … where the money goes is the problem. It goes to feed an enormous bureaucracy that adds little to no value to what happens in the classroom and, in some cases, to pay teachers and administrators that have no business being anywhere close to our children but are protected by tenure and union contracts.

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      • W Cobb Dawg

        Do administrators have tenure and union contracts? Just asking.

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      • Debby Balcer

        Money is a problem in poor school districts. Just look at the difference in Clarke and Occonee counties. While working on her master’s many daughter taught in Clarke county and the poverty level of her students was unbelievable. The entire county is almost Title one. The amount of money she spent out of pocket was unreal. She is teaching in a good school system in a school with a great PTA and still spends some out of pocket but nothing near compared to teaching there. One child shared in show and tell that he was excited to go to his grandparent’s house because he would have something to eat. Mind boggling when you are excited to eat. Poverty plays a role in all of this.

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        • Absolutely agree on a micro level … unfortunately, a child in Appalachia or the Mississippi River delta isn’t getting the same quality of education of a child in North Atlanta due to funding.

          On a macro level, we spend more and get less out of our educational system than pretty much every other country in the industrialized world.

          The question is what do we do about it. Do we take away money from the schools in Oconee County to give it to the schools in Clarke County? Do we change the education system to allow the money to move with the child and enable schools to compete for students? Do we allow schools to innovate and find different delivery models that improve education and deliver cost effectively?

          Most teachers do their jobs in a way that should make us proud of them and appreciate their contribution to a civilized society (sounds like your daughter is one of those, so thank you as parent to parent). The problem is there is a lot of bureaucracy in the public school system across all levels that siphons that money into the pockets of bureaucrats, their cronies and poor teachers rather than putting that money where it needs to be – rewarding great educators & improving the delivery of education.

          Rant over – back to discussing spring ball! 🙂

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  10. Debby Balcer

    Black athletes include a lot of first person in the family to go to college and many come from families with no history of academic success. The culture gap from high school to college with a family that has the history of college education and understands what it takes to be successful still has students who blow their freshman year. The athletic load on top of the student load is large. Once these kids who do not go onto the NFL use up their eligibility is the university there to help them pay for the rest of their schooling? If football was the only way they got into school that is an issue. I know this study gives them six years but for a student athlete if they have not graduated after five I would imagine they never do unless they left for the NFL and can afford to pay for their education themselves.

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  11. Ole Dawg

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

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  12. Ben

    Wait until Trump becomes president and returns education responsibility and planning to the local level. These situations will go away, everything will be terrific. It’ll be great!

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    • Not a Trump fan myself, but I would love for control of education to return to the local level. I would much rather be able to look my local superintendent of schools in the eye and ask him/her why our school system is failing or to be able to vote out the state school superintendent (or governor) than to have to deal with a nameless, faceless bureaucrat at the US Department of Education in Washington, Doesn’t Care.

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  13. Asef

    Most kids on athletic scholarship get there by making their sport a part-time job from age 12 or even earlier. I see so many local kids – white, black, whatever – get that brass ring but come back after 1 or 2 semesters. The editor for the local paper even stopped announcing athletic scholarship winners. It’s too embarrassing for them when they come back.

    Their schools offer college prep. A lot of them don’t take those courses. Time demands and all that.

    I’m fighting this battle with my own 14 year old right now. 98th percentile in 5th grade, 3.5 on a weighted 4.0 so far in high school. He doesn’t see the problem.

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  14. 92 grad

    Oy, politics. I enjoy the discussion of education, especially when waste and mis management is cited. I just wish the general public could handle the subject for more than about 5 minutes. That’s the trick to finding good pathways out of the bottomless pit of mediocrity.

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