The discussion over the graduation rates of men’s basketball players on NCAA tournament teams has grown in recent years. One columnist wondered what President Obama might say if he addressed the issue:
“While nine of every 10 white players graduate on the top-32-seeded men’s teams, only five of every 10 black players graduate. As an African American, I am personally outraged that 21 of the 68 men’s teams have black player graduation rates ranging from 44 percent down to zero.
“Thus, beginning today, I will do my bracket with this new stipulation: I will not write in your team if either your team or black player graduation rate is under 50 percent.
“This decision is not an easy one to make for a basketball purist. It leaves out nearly a third of the teams, including prestigious programs that account for 10 of the last 21 titles. It is with regret that I will leave blank spots for Syracuse, Indiana State, Missouri, Southern Cal, Michigan State, Tennessee, Florida, Nevada-Las Vegas, UC-Santa Barbara, Michigan, Morehead State, Kentucky, Georgia, Temple, Connecticut, Alabama-Birmingham, Texas, Washington, Arizona, Kansas State, and Akron…”
If Education Secretary Arne Duncan already made a similar suggestion, why not the President, who is an avid basketball fan and fills out men’s and women’s brackets on TV?
This is a complex issue that the NCAA doesn’t seem to want to talk about. Instead, they would rather run commercials (one example here) saying that “most [college athletes] go pro in something other than sports.” This may be true in many sports but there are racial gaps in a number of schools in both men’s basketball and football (read about troubles at Auburn here), the major revenue-generating sports.