A study by the Institute for that Diversity and Ethics in Sports found that NCAA men’s basketball programs have the worst record associated with a college sport with regards to graduating its players with a college degree. The report, which looked at the number of NCAA athletes earning an undergraduate diplomas in six years, found that more than a dozen Division I schools failed to graduate even 1 / 2 of their men’s basketball players. Basketball powerhouse University of Connecticut rated dead last with only a quarter its players receiving their degrees by the time they leave the college.
This is in sharp contrast to another school with a storied basketball program. Marquette, where \”student-athlete\” is not just a meaningless appellation, shepherded 91% of their players to a degree this season, and have even reached 100% graduation rate in certain years. Based on school president Reverend Scott Pilarz, their success stems partly from their Jesuit roots along with a tradition of creating academics a priority, and partially from one-on-one assistance given to every student — whether she or he participates within the school’s athletics programs.
“Part of who we\’re as a Jesuit university causes us to be insist that we care for these students of all the point of the compass,” Pilarz said. “We\’ve this tradition called cura personalis – which goes back to the 16th century and extremely is rooted in Ignatius Loyola’s experience with how God treated him like a unique individual — and that’s how we want to treat all of our students. We actually try to stress meeting them where they\’re individually after which moving them along so they achieve well academically.”
The Catholic college uses this academic focus as an athletic recruiting tool, making sure that potential students know and understand that class won\’t come second to time on the court. The first thing that freshman athletes encounter on campus isn\’t a spirited pick-up game, but an intensive summer school course made to help those people who are struggling get ready for the rigors of college coursework.
The plight of elite college athletes who fail to become the 1% who move on to professional sports leagues, as well as for whom deficiencies in a college degree is indeed a barrier to some traditional post-college career, has long concerned the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Duncan recalls playing pick-up ball on the streets of Chicago with a lot of \”almost made it\” players who had nothing to show for his or her four year college stints apart from money that had made for others.
“There were all these amazing stars who generated lots of money for the universities they played for and had nothing, zero, to show for it after the season,” Duncan said. “I usually felt that was morally wrong.”
Duncan chose to do something about it. Using his bully pulpit as education secretary, he continued TV programs, held news conferences and wrote editorials suggesting teams that neglect to graduate a minimum of 40% of their players ought to be banned from postseason tournaments.
Finally, the NCAA is listening. A brand new rule adopted last fall will bar any college program that does not graduate the vast majority of its athletes for four consecutive years from taking part in the postseason. And also the first school to be prone to the new rule will be last year’s champion University of Connecticut. Regardless of how well they do by their basketball players this year, come 2013, they will be sitting our March Madness — and will continue to sit out the NCAA basketball tournaments until they raise the percentage of their basketball players who graduate.