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March Madness: The Achievement Gap Edition

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Following up on the Quick and the Ed's March Madness graduation rate post, check out the black-white grad rate gaps for players on this year's teams:

* 61 percent (33 schools) of the men’s tournament teams graduated 70 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, while only 30 percent (19 schools) graduated 70 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes, creating a 31 percent gap.

* 83 percent (45) graduated 50 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, but only 57 percent (36) graduated 50 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes, creating a 26 percent gap.
8 Comments

You are usually so good with numbers.

And there is a huge gap.

But the way the 31% and 26% are calculated is problematic, and not meaningful.

Because the data spread out, 70% or 50% are both a bit arbitrary, and also don't differentiate between 10% and 49%.

100% of the schools graduate a higher percentage of whites than Blacks. Is that true? That would have meant something.

Or, for the 65 schools, the average percentage of basketball athletes/students graduated by race. That would have been the most interesting. Perhaps the number would have been significant, but not eye-catching?

Anyway, I was surprised, as you do usually handle numbers well.

These numbers don't surprise me, given my own experience w/ student athletes at my alma mater. From my observations, the African-American BBall and football players often entered college with pretty darn low SAT scores/grades. My general perception was that the white athletes' academics were better, but then very few of the top players were white students.

Also, several white players were walk-ons, who were admitted to college under regular admission, and then tried out for the team. Therefore, their academic abilities were more on par with the other students.

Question: Did most of the black athletes who failed to graduate instead go on to play professionally? Or did they simply drop out (due to academic problems, lack of funding, low motivation, etc.)?

Jonathan - agreed on the non-utility of the gap numbers. I pulled them right from the press release, and you're correct that they're misleading.

Ah, that makes sense. If we had the raw numbers...

but we're depending on someone else.

[61 percent (33 schools) of the men’s tournament teams graduated 70 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, while only 30 percent (19 schools) graduated 70 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes, creating a 31 percent gap.]

You must mean a 31 percentage point gap. Big difference!

I have always found it to be criminal that any institution that labels itself as an educational institution would seemingly be so unconcerned about educating their student athletes. It's shameful - this exploitation and I cannot understand how this has been allowed to go on and on.

I'd like to know what percent of black and white basketball players left their teams early because they were drafted into professional basketball associations. Just graduation rates may need to be adjusted somewhat based on this information. It may be an intervening variable.

The statistics in this case are a bit misleading. Race is both difficult to accurately describe,as in what acually constitutes an African-American athlete as opposed to a White athlete? The numbers also tend to use race as a variable, or a proxy for a variable, when, in fact, race cannot be changed. There may indeed be a gap in graduation rates based on skin color, but skin color is not the direct cause of the gap.

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