A study of the 70 schools selected for college football bowl games this season showed football teams maintained high recent academic progress, but the gap between African-American and white players persists.
The annual report released Monday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport showed overall Graduation Success Rate improvement from 68 to 69 percent for football players at the bowl-bound schools.
Primary study author Richard Lapchick said he thinks the recent awareness raised by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and NAACP President Ben Jealous has been instrumental in pushing schools to make academic progress by athletes a priority.
This year’s numbers show a 20 percentage point gap between the graduation rate of white and African-American athletes, 82 percent to 62 percent. The numbers were 81 and 61 percent last year. But Lapchick is encouraged that the rate for African-American athletes has risen consistently recently.
As recently as 2009, those rates were 58 percent for African-American and 77 percent for white athletes.
Lapchick noted that across the NCAA, African-American football players graduate at higher rates than male African-American students as a whole. Another study released Monday, though, found less success by that measure among schools in the six BCS automatic qualifying conferences.
The report from the Penn Graduate School of Education Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education looked at all athletes at those schools, not just football players. Using federal graduation rates, it found that at those schools, 50.2 percent of African-American male athletes graduated within six years, compared with 55.5 percent of African-American undergraduate men.
The GSR measures graduation rates of Division I schools after four years and includes students transferring into the institutions. The GSR also allows schools to subtract athletes who leave before graduation, as long as they would have been academically eligible to compete if they remained.