NCAA Graduation Rates

“The math on this is not complicated,” Secretary Duncan told USA Today. “If you can’t graduate one in two of your student-athletes, I just question the institutional commitment to academics. And I think if the NCAA were to draw a line in the sand, you’d see this behavior change very rapidly.”

Secretary Duncan also penned an op-ed in today’s Washington Post shedding light on the fact that 10 of the 68 men’s teams in the NCAA tournament are not on track to graduate even half of their players:

“Colleges and universities need to stop trotting out tired excuses for basketball teams with poor academic records and indefensible disparities in the graduation rates of white and black players. And it is time that the NCAA revenue distribution plan stopped handsomely rewarding success on the court with multimillion-dollar payouts to schools that fail to meet minimum academic standards.

“Like millions of fans, I’ll be watching the tournament, rooting for my favorites. As a kid on the South Side of Chicago who loved basketball, I got to see the best and the worst of college sports. I spent time on the court with inner-city players who had been used and dumped by their universities. When the ball stopped bouncing, they struggled to find work and had difficult lives. Some died early. The dividing line for success was between those who went to college and got their degrees, and those who did not. If a team fails to graduate even half of its players, how serious are the institution and coach about preparing their student-athletes for life?”

Secretary Duncan joined Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, and Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, University of Central Florida on a press call to discuss NCAA graduation rates. Read the transcript, or listen to the call Audio icon.


  1. Dear Sec’y. Duncan,
    I am so glad to read that you see the disparity in the
    collage level of basketball and hope to make changes so
    there is a level playing field. I am over 80 yrs. old
    but follow Harvard to watch a local young man, Kyle
    Casey,a bright & articulate student and a great athlete.
    Sometimes they play against ‘students’ that seem to be
    much older. I would be interested to see the graduation
    figures from Oklahoma State. These schools do not serve
    their athletes well when they do not graduate.
    Thank you again for you interest in fairness
    Teresa O’Brien, Medway, Ma. Go Harvard

  2. In USA Today’s article by “Education Chief: Low Grad Rate Should Mean No Tourney Invite” Secretary Arne Duncan believes teams should be disqualified from the NCAA tournament (men’s and women’s). I believe teams would be more adamant with their basketball players to receive better grades if they had a policy to not play in the NCAA tournament but I do not think every player on the team should be punished if some of their teammates do not meet the grade requirements. I think if they kept track of college players grades and suspended players that are not doing well academically then they will be just as motivated and even more so on an individual level to raise their scores on the tests. I am not sure how they are tested since either article did not explain how they came up with the academic team scores.

  3. The article by USA Today writer Erik Brady “Education Chief: Low Grad Rate Should Mean No Tourney Invite” places blame on some good institutions, but doesn’t explain how the formula is even calculated, so readers are led to believe that a school like Purdue should be excluded from the tourney because it cannot graduate its players (which is completely inaccurate). Please read the article listed below, and find a way to correct this. Thanks!

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