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.