A diversity report released Tuesday found that a significant graduation gap continues to exist between white and Black basketball players for the teams competing in this year’s NCAA Tournament, particularly on the men’s side.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida examined the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for the teams competing in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and found that white male student-athletes graduated at a rate 13.5 percentage points higher than Black male student-athletes.
White players on average had a GSR of 93.8%, compared to 80.3% for Black players.
The gap was slightly lower on the women’s side with white players recording a graduation rate of 97.9% compared to 91.8% for Black players.
“The thing that has bothered us for the 20 years that we have been doing this is the gap between Black student-athletes and white student-athletes both in men’s and women’s sports,” said TIDES director Richard Lapchick, the lead author of the report. “It’s narrower than it was 20 years ago but it is still persistent. It barely changed at all this year compared to last year."
Lapchick said more needs to be done to close the gap between those rates, and that needs to start at primary, middle school and secondary education establishments in urban areas.
“A lot of them simply don't have the same resources as those who grow up in more affluent suburban areas,” Lapchick said.
Overall, women's basketball players continue to graduate at a significantly higher rate than their male counterparts.
Women players on teams competing in the NCAA Tournament graduated at a rate of 93.1% compared to 82.4% for the men, whose overall number dipped 0.4 percentage points in graduation rate compared to last year's projected tournament numbers.
Since the tournament was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, TIDES based their 2020 statistics on the teams that were projected to make the tournament field.
“Historically, we have reported that women’s basketball teams have performed considerably better in the classroom than the men’s teams in all of the categories we measure since we started reporting on the graduation rates nearly two decades ago," Lapchick said.
Lapchick pointed out that of the women’s teams in the tournament, 12 scored a perfect APR score of 1000 while only one men’s team achieved a perfect score. There were 27 women’s teams and 11 men’s teams with a 100% graduation rate.
Gonzaga and Michigan are the winners in the eyes of the study.
Both schools have teams in the men’s and women’s tournament with 100% graduation rates.
Lapchick noted they are the only men’s and women’s tournament teams to have consecutively met this mark. Gonzaga has met this mark for the past four years, while Michigan has for the past four years.
Among the men’s teams in this year's tournament 92.5% graduated 70% or more of their white players, while only 75% of teams graduated 70% or more of their Black players.
On the women's side, 98.2% of the teams graduated 70% or more of their white players, while 91.9% graduated 70% or more of their Black players.