ORLANDO, Fla. -- The academic disparity between white and
black football players who will compete in this season's five major
bowls was nearly twice the national average, according to a study
However, the analysis by the University of Central Florida
showed classroom improvement. Eighty-six percent of the 64
bowl-bound teams graduated at least 50 percent of their players.
Richard Lapchick, the study author, did not have comparable figures
of graduation rates from previous years.
Further, 62 percent (40 schools) matched or beat the NCAA's new
Academic Progress Rate standard, which is intended to more
accurately gauge grades and graduation rates. But the statistics
are preliminary and don't include the most recent school year.
Perhaps most strikingly, white athletes in the Bowl Championship
Series beat their counterparts among the 119 NCAA Division I
schools overall by graduating 81 percent compared with 62 percent
overall. The black athlete graduation rate was 56 percent among
those schools, also better than the 49 percent overall rate. But
the overall discrepancy between white and black players' graduation
rates for top bowl teams was nearly twice the 13-point difference
Lapchick said the racial disparity was a continued concern, but
the NCAA's new academic standards are already making a difference.
"I go to a lot of campuses to speak and I'm told on a regular
basis that they're recruiting very different student-athletes these
days because they know they can't afford the penalties," Lapchick
said. "A lot of schools that formerly took risks on
student-athletes because they were so great athletically, they're
no longer recruiting those student-athletes."
Boston College and Navy, which are meeting in the Meineke Car
Care Bowl, had the best Academic Progress Rates of any bowl-bound
programs (Navy with 986, BC with 982).
Seven of the eight Atlantic Coast Conference teams in bowls made
Lapchick's top 25 academically: Boston College, Clemson, Florida
State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, Wake Forest. The lone
exception was among ACC bowl teams Virginia Tech.
The APR was developed in 2004 and awards points based on how
many scholarship athletes meet academic eligibility standards. A
cutoff score of 925 means an estimated 50 percent of those athletes
are on track to graduate. Twenty-four schools this year fell below
that rate, and that will eventually lead to stiff penalties.
"As our reforms continue to take hold, we expect to see higher
levels of improvement and achievement in the overall academic
success of our student-athletes," the NCAA said in a written
statement. "This is critical, because very few of them will become
Forty-eight schools graduated two-thirds or more of their white
players, but just 18 met that mark for black players. Twelve
schools graduated less than 40 percent of their black football
players, while no program fell below that standard for white
Troy was the only school that graduated more black players than
white (by 9 percentage points).