The Black men playing football for some of the top teams in college football’s 2014 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games may be succeeding on the gridiron, but a new report from the University of Pennsylvania shows that many are failing – or being failed – in the classroom.
A new study released today from Penn’s Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education details the low graduation rates of Black male student-athletes on teams participating in the 2014 BCS. Based on six-year graduation rates at the 10 schools, at least half the Black players taking to the field in a BCS game in the coming weeks will not graduate.
Those numbers suggest a lack of accountability to study author Dr. Shaun R. Harper.
“In some instances, at Florida State University, for example, Black men comprise nearly 70 percent of the football team, yet just over one-third of those Black male student-athletes will graduate,” said Harper, a professor in the Penn Graduate School of Education and the Center’s Executive Director. “These numbers are shameful. In my view, no team with rates this low for a population that comprises such a significant portion of the team should be allowed to play in any BCS Bowl. These schools and their athletic conferences must be held more accountable.”
The data also show that although Black men make up 60 percent of the top 25 BCS football teams, only 12 percent of coaches and athletic directors are Black.
Further, only 50 percent of Black male student-athletes graduate within six years from universities in the seven major NCAA Division I sports conferences, compared to 67 percent of student-athletes overall, the study found. Those numbers go along with 73 percent of undergraduate students overall, and 56 percent of Black undergraduate men overall who graduate from the same institutions.
Bowl Breakdown of Black Male Student-Athlete Graduation Rates:
National Championship Florida State: 37 percent [21 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Auburn: 51 percent [8 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Sugar Bowl Alabama: 53 percent [15 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Oklahoma: 42 percent [13 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Orange Bowl Clemson: 47 percent [20 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Ohio State: 50 percent [25 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Fiesta Bowl Baylor: 50 percent [14 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Central Florida: 47 percent [13 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Rose Bowl Michigan State: 49 percent [23 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
Stanford: 82 percent [11 percent lower than student-athletes overall]
The Harper, Williams, and Blackman report notes that problems as pervasive as the underrepresentation of Black men in the undergraduate student population at predominantly white colleges and universities, their overrepresentation on revenue-generating NCAA Division I sports teams, and their comparatively lower six-year graduation rates warrant a multidimensional response from various stakeholders. The report authors offer numerous concrete strategies and recommendations for five groups: the NCAA and Sports Conference commissioners; college and university leaders; coaches and athletic departments; journalists and sports media, and Black male student-athletes and their families.
This year’s data (infographic available for download at www.gse.upenn.edu/equity/bcs) is focused on the top 25 BCS schools.
To download the original Harper, Williams, and Blackman report on Black male student-athletes, please visit www.gse.upenn.edu/equity/sports.