Is it true that black male athletes have a higher graduation rate than other students? It is not. The N.C.A.A. has created several other Orwellian concepts, such as an Academic Progress Rate, which allows it to use data to create the illusion that athletes are doing better academically than their peers.Josef Goebbels, Mark Emmert, Ministry of Truth.
But Richard Southall, who directs the College Sport Research Institute at the University of North Carolina — along with two colleagues, E. Woodrow Eckard of the University of Colorado-Denver and Mark Nagel at the University of South Carolina — have done rigorous studies that show the opposite. In comparing college basketball players with their true peer group — full-time college students — their data show that the athletes are 20 percent less likely to graduate than nonathletes. They also parsed the data by race: of the teams in this year’s March Madness, for instance, the black athletes are 33 percent less likely to graduate than nonathletes.
When we spoke this week, Southall directed me to an obscure link he had stumbled upon at the N.C.A.A.’s Web site. It consists of a series of short briefings prepared by the N.C.A.A. staff for its incoming president, Mark Emmert. (Emmert, the former president of the University of Washington, took the reins at the N.C.A.A. in April 2010.) I clicked through to a section called “Protecting the Collegiate Model.” It read, in part: “The consistent use of the term — with the steady drumbeat of what it means — can be an effective constraint on practices that threaten to estrange intercollegiate athletics from higher education.” In other words, pound the message home, over and over. Just like that ad does.
The N.C.A.A. has its own equivalents. Athletes Are Students. College Sports Is Not About Money. Graduation Is The Goal.James Joyner concurs in part and dissents in part.
Enjoy the Final Four.
The bottom line, then, is that the fairytale that the NCAA is pushing about student-athletes as well-rounded individuals who represent the best of what college is supposed to be about is actually true–except for the sports that people are watching and create the need for the NCAA’s propaganda. The players on the soccer, tennis, gymnastics, swimming, rugby, rowing, lacrosse, softball, golf, and other teams are much more likely than their non-athlete peers to be great students who go on to great things. The sham, not surprisingly, is with the teams where there’s a multi-billion dollar incentive to create one.Yes, and a lot of those sports are upscale compared to the so-called revenue sports, with talented players who might have taken on extracurriculars as an application-enhancer. (Call the roll of the strong lacrosse, field hockey, rowing, golf, and tennis programs.) Then consider the cynicism of the advertisement favorably comparing "African-American graduation rates" inside and outside sports. Eligibility trumps affirmative action.
Now comes Enterprise Rent-a-Car featuring former college athletes who have subsequently secured employment with that company. Are we seeing indirect confirmation of excessive credentialism at work? There's a lot of human capital development that happens on the job.