December 07, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) A study of this season's bowl-bound teams shows while there continues to be high academic success for the student-athletes overall, the disparity in graduation rates between black and white students remains a problem at the highest level of college football.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found in its latest study released Monday that black students graduated from the 80 bowl-bound programs had a 68 percent graduation success rate compared to 87 percent for their white counterparts. Those numbers represent a two percent increase for both groups a year ago. Overall, 75 percent of student-athletes are graduated from the bowl-bound schools, up from 2015 when the number was 73 percent.

The gap between black and white student-athletes is 19 percent for the second year in a row.

As a whole, 99 percent of the teams participating in the bowl season had at least a 50 percent graduation success rate, which is a slight drop from 100 percent of the 80 postseason-bound programs last years. Idaho was the only school that scored less than the 930 on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate compared to the 100 percent last year.

Scoring higher than 930 on the APR is equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate.

''Unfortunately the disparity between the black and white players has been the case consistently in these reports,'' said Richard Lapchick, the author of the study. ''The graduation rates of both black and white football players continue to creep up a little bit and they are actually at level that 15 years ago I probably would have said I'm pretty happy if these were the rates.

''But the fact the gap has persisted is what's most troubling.''

It wasn't part of the study but Lapchick found black football players on bowl-bound teams graduate at a higher rate when their coach is also black. The number jumped to 71 percent from 68 percent when the coach is also black. The overall graduation rate also improved from 75 percent to 84 percent under black coaches.

The four teams selected for this season's College Football Playoff -- Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington -- all had above average records. Alabama is graduating 80 percent of its players, Clemson 84 percent, Ohio State 74 percent and Washington 78 percent.

The NCAA created the APR system in 2004 to more accurately measure student-athletes' academic success and graduation rates. The Graduation Success Rate, developed in 2005, 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.

NCAA statistics were used in the study. The APR data does not include data from the 2015-16 academic performances of the teams in the study but instead uses four years of data ending in the 2013-14 school year. This is the most updated data available from the NCAA.


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