Duncan: 40% grad rate for March Madness

Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants to require NCAA basketball teams to graduate at least 40 percent of players or forfeit participation in postseason play.

If the rules were in place for this year, 12 teams including top-ranked Kentucky, which graduated only 31 percent of its players, would not be eligible.

The other teams are Arkansas Pine Bluff, Baylor, California, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico State, Tennessee and Washington.

Duncan played basketball at Harvard.
About Joanne


  1. 40% is too low.

    How about the players be actual students with at least a C average?

    Some college athletes read and write at the 4th grade level.

  2. Mark Roulo says:

    I will make the (I hope, noncontroversial) observation that the NCAA men’s basketball tournament teams tend to be filled with black male athletes.

    The graduation rate after eight years for black males, athletes or not, in the Cal State system is 39.7%.

    See here: http://www.asd.calstate.edu/csrde/ftf/2007htm/sys.htm

    Does Arne Duncan have a specific solution in mind to get the athlete graduation rates up? Unless we assume that the athletes are better students than the school black male population as a whole, they are *not* under performing their peer group.

    Sure, it would be great if they graduated at closer to the Cal State average as a whole (54.9% after eight years), but it would be great if the non-athlete black male students graduated at higher numbers, too.

    Does he think the schools can do something that they aren’t doing for these students? Or is he suggesting that the schools should not admit them in the first place?

    The same hold true for other schools, too.

    UA-PB, for example, has a 29% graduation rate for their students as a whole.

    See: http://www.blackcollegesearch.com/arkansas-colleges/university-of-arkansas-at-pine-bluff.htm (note: length of time not provided).

    Again, are the basketball players expected to perform better than the student population as a whole?

    -Mark Roulo

  3. Mark Roulo says:

    “The graduation rate after eight years for black males, athletes or not, in the Cal State system is 39.7%.”

    My bad. 39.7% is the graduation rate for black students as a whole, male or female. Again, unless we assume that the athletes are better than the non-athletes …

    -Mark Roulo

  4. Cardinal Fang says:

    Black male students in general at Cal (in academic circles, known as Berkeley) do not have a graduation rate of 30%. Or anything nearly as low as that. But that’s the graduation rate of the basketball team.

  5. tim-10-ber says:

    Oooh…anything to keep Kentucky out of the NCAA…having Baylor and GT in this group surprise me…

    However the graduation rates from college don’t surprise me as these are most likely kids that didn’t truly graduate from high school either. Many of these kids are the ones that should have been held back at an early age but no teacher would or a teacher wanted to but their administrator wouldn’t support them…

    Come on educators…do your job or get the kids out of school but not in an environment where their lack of effort in the classroom but their ability on the court becomes the wrong role model for kids…oh…it might be too late as they are the role model for many kids…

  6. SuperSub says:

    I’m rooting for Cornell to go far in the tournament… I don’t know the data, but I’m expecting their graduation rates are a tad bit higher than 30%.

  7. In the big-revenue sports, especially, athletics are the determining factor in admissions. Unqualified (at least for the specific school) kids are admitted, they REALLY major in the sport but they are assigned to easy classes/majors (rec mgmt etc) and provided tutors. I am aware of one huge-name sports program where the incoming freshmen were all put in ballroom dance class.

    I’m for removing all sports and non-academic extracurriculars from schools and universities and letting parks and rec and clubs run those activities. Almost all sports (football the probable exception) already have a strong club structure that runs not only through k-12, but up to Olympic and professional levels. Baseball and hockey already run their own farm system; let the NFL and the NBA do the same. BTW, all of my kids were full-time elite athletes and they agree with me on this issue. Their varsity play was secondary, in every way, to their club play, which was entirely separate.

  8. Since I don’t want Kentucky to win, I think they should be blocked from the tournament over this travesty of social injustice. Snark!

    John Wall would be in the pros if the NBA would let him. Instead, he has to play a year in college and THEN he can come play with the big boys and make actual money above the table instead of in unmarked envelopes from boosters and alumni. As a result, Kentucky doesn’t graduate him and their numbers are down.

    Allow him to go pro earlier and Kentucky would have to find actual student/athletes to play on its team.

    If you are complaining that the entire athletic program is at fault because the entire athletic program is graduating too few people, then you might have a better argument. But you would have to compare the athletes to the student body as a whole and you might find some unpleasant truths about diversity and preferential enrollments.

  9. How about not one penny of public money is spent on any college or high school sports activities? Then, we would not have to have this conversation or worry about the oh-so-poor athletes’ graduation rates. If colleges and high schools want to have sports, they should be funded privately. Then (maybe), we could worry about the fundamemtal purpose of schools–academic learning.

  10. Excuse me–fundamental (egg on my face)

  11. Shoot for the stars!

  12. How about Arne Duncan worrying about educational issues that matter?
    We all know what NCAA basketball is, don’t we? Minor league basketball. If the NBA had something like Minor League Baseball, many of these students would not bother with college. The solution is easy: each NBA team gets an A, AA, and AAA team. It would be better than watching the minor league hockey we have in our area.


  1. […] Duncan: 40% grad rate for March Madness « Joanne Jacobs […]

  2. […] 40% grad rate for March Madness ; Mark Roulo on Duncan: 40% grad rate for March Madness …Continue Reading Cancel […]