NCAA Football Graduation Rate Still Troubling

The news that no teams would be disqualified under new NCAA regulations is tempered by racial gaps in teams' graduation rates, Derrick Z. Jackson writes in his Boston Globe column.

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In his Boston Globe column, Derrick Z. Jackson takes up the National Collegiate Athletic Association's ban on postseason play for football teams with low graduation rates starting in 2012-2013. The good news that no teams would be disqualified is tempered by unchanged racial gaps, he writes.

IT IS the academic version of pro football’s “two-minute warning.’’ The National Collegiate Athletic Association has a coming ban on postseason play for teams with low graduation rates. It will start in the 2012-13 season for teams that do not graduate at least around 46 percent of their players. The cut-off will rise to 50 percent two years later.

One school that should be paying close attention is the University of Massachusetts. Next season it is moving up into the NCAA’s bowl division as a member of the Mid-American Conference. When the postseason ban was announced, the commissioner of that conference, Jon Steinbrecher, said, “I think all of us would applaud and welcome that we’re going to link educational outcomes to championship eligibility.’’

My 16th annual Graduation Gap Bowl leaves an open question about how much Steinbrecher will truly be applauding. While the NCAA’s ban concerns itself with only the overall graduation rate of a team, my Gap Bowl covers other major factors that should also disqualify teams, including the gap between graduation rates for white and black players. The MAC, for instance, has five teams playing in the 35 bowl games. But only one of them, Northern Illinois, would score a “touchdown’’ in the Gap Bowl for a graduation rate of at least 50 percent and a racial gap of less than 15 points.

Read Derrick Z. Jackson's entire column at the Boston Globe.

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