The March Madness Statistic You Don’t Hear About: College Grad Rates

The country's best teams are competing in the NCAA tournament for a national championship. But are schools preparing its black players for life after basketball?

By Hatty Lee Mar 19, 2012

There are a lot of stats that matter during March Madness. But one that’s not often tallied as the country’s best college basketball teams compete for a national championship is how often those schools graduate players. On the whole, comparatively few Division I men’s college basketball players wind up playing professionally, and that underscores a central question facing some of the top programs in the country: Are schools preparing their student athletes to lead productive lives off of the basketball court after their playing days are over?

The answer hasn’t always been a good one, and it’s often colored by race. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida released its annual study, "Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Success and Academic Success for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Team" just in time for this year’s tournament. 

Also, Inside Higher Ed put together their March Madness Academic Performance Tournament bracket for the seventh consecutive year. The bracket is based on each team’s Academic Progress rate which is used to measure classroom performance. This year, the winner of the academic tournament is Kansas.

Overall, there was an increase in the number of teams that graduated 50 percent or more of their student-athletes, and a decrease in teams that graduated less than 40 percent. But the number of teams with above 60 and 70 percent student-athletes graduates decreased.