Assessing the graduation rates of the 2014-15 bowl teams

Monday December 8th, 2014

A study released on Monday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida found that while the overall academic progress of student-athletes on bowl teams continued this year, the gap between white and African American football student-athletes at those schools was still "substantial."

The study found that the overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for bowl teams grew from 72 percent in 2013 to 73 percent this year, and 74 of the 75* bowl teams had at least a 50 percent GSR.

There was an 18 percent gap between white and African American football student-athletes when it came to graduation rates, which Richard Lapchick, the primary director of the study, called a "major issue." Both rates were up slightly from 2013; the average GSR for white student-athletes in 2014 was 85 percent and the average GSR for African American student-athletes was 67 percent. Fifteen schools (20 percent) had a gap of at least 30 percent between the GSR of its white and African American football student-athletes, while 39 schools (52 percent) had at least a 20 percent gap.  

Seven percent of the schools graduated less than half of their African American football student-athletes, while none of them graduated less than half of their white football student-athletes. The only bowl school to graduate less than 40 percent of its African American football student-athletes was BYU

From the report: 

"Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and Oregon, which will contend in the college football playoff for the National Championship, all had good academic records. Alabama’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) stood at 975, Florida State’s APR is 958, Ohio State’s APR is 972, and Oregon’s APR is 958." 

"Stanford, Rice, Notre Dame, and Air Force would have played for the National Championship if there was a college football playoff based on Graduation Success Rates among bowl teams. All teams graduated at least 93 percent of all football student-athletes and at least 97 percent of African-American football student-athletes. Stanford, Rice, and Air Force graduated 100 percent of their African-American football student-athletes."

Nine of the 75* schools had a GSR higher for its African American football student-athletes than its white football student athletes: Arizona, Air Force, Utah State, Rice, Notre Dame, Duke, Utah, Stanford and UCF. Rates were even at Penn State. 

*South Alabama was not included in the study because data was not available. The study uses four years of data ending in the 2012-13 school year.

- Molly Geary

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