Bowl-bound teams show academic progress; Clemson ranks second in ACC to Duke

Notre Dame, Northwestern top national list with 97 percent Graduation Success Rate

Clemson University football players Dawson Zimmerman, left, and Dalton Freeman before the winter graduation in Littlejohn Coliseum.

Clemson University football players Dawson Zimmerman, left, and Dalton Freeman before the winter graduation in Littlejohn Coliseum.

ORLANDO, Fla. - A study of the 70 schools selected for college football bowl games this season showed football teams maintained high recent academic progress, but the gap between African-American and white players persists.

The annual report released Monday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport showed overall Graduation Success Rate improvement from 68 to 69 percent for football players at the bowl-bound schools.

Also, 97 percent of schools received a score higher than the target 925 (equal to an expected graduation rate of 50 percent) on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. Teams with a four-year APR of 925 or below face penalties including loss of scholarships. A new APR standard of 930 started to take effect for the 2012-13 academic year, though it won't be fully in place until 2014-15.

Notre Dame and Northwestern topped the list with Graduation Success Rates (GSR) of 97 percent, and were followed by Rice (93), Duke (92), Rutgers (91) and Stanford (90).

Duke's GSR led the ACC, while Clemson (75) and Virginia Tech (75) came in next among bowl-bound teams.

Vanderbilt had the SEC's top mark at 85 percent, followed by LSU (77), Florida (76) and Alabama (75).

Four schools' football GSRs fell under 50 percent - San Jose State (48), Oklahoma (47), Central Michigan (47) and South Carolina (39).

Primary study author Richard Lapchick said he thinks the recent awareness raised by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and NAACP President Ben Jealous has been instrumental in pushing schools to make academic progress by athletes a priority.

"I think the threat of the loss of scholarships has great meaning for coaches today," Lapchick said. "Even with football teams being so much bigger than in basketball, coaches want to protect those slots. They have become more engaged themselves and are getting the resources into academic affairs to get students who maybe weren't as engaged in high school to be more successful at their universities."

This year's numbers show a 20 percentage point gap between the graduation rate of white and African-American athletes, 82 percent to 62 percent. The numbers were 81 and 61 percent last year. But Lapchick is encouraged that the rate for African-American athletes has risen consistently recently.

As recently as 2009, those rates were 58 percent for African-American and 77 percent for white athletes.

"There are a few perspectives on that gap," Lapchick said. "Graduation rates have significantly gone up annually a few points each year, and that's the good news."

Lapchick noted that across the NCAA, African-American football players graduate at higher rates than male African-American students as a whole. Another study released Monday, though, found less success by that measure among schools in the six BCS automatic qualifying conferences.

The report from the Penn Graduate School of Education Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education looked at all athletes at those schools, not just football players. Using federal graduation rates, it found that at those schools, 50.2 percent of African-American male athletes graduated within six years, compared with 55.5 percent of African-American undergraduate men.

The GSR 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.

At the bowl-bound schools, 66 of 70, or 94 percent, had at least a 50 percent GSR for their football teams. That's down from 97 percent in 2011, though Lapchick praised the high figure.

While the racial gap is a complex issue, Lapchick said, small things can make a difference.

"I think you continue to apply as many resources as you can, but (universities) also have to engage the public school systems where they are," he said. "Now you see student-athletes volunteering in their communities, which is something that hasn't always been the case.

"If those resources were directed at middle schools and elementary schools, then their leadership could help young people at those schools and inspire them to plot an academic course for their future so that they will have more opportunities."

Bowl Teams GSR Rankings

BCS Bowls: Notre Dame 97, Stanford 90, Northern Illinois 83, Florida 76, Alabama 75, Wisconsin 65, Oregon 64, Louisville 63, Kansas State 58

Atlantic Coast Conference: Duke 92, Clemson 75, Virginia Tech 75, NC State 62, Georgia Tech 55, Florida State 55

Southeastern Conference: Vanderbilt 85, LSU 77, Florida 76, Alabama 75, Georgia 69, Texas A&M 69, Mississippi State 60, Mississippi 59, South Carolina 39

Over 90 Percent: Notre Dame 97, Northwestern 97, Rice 93, Duke 92, Rutgers 91, Stanford 90

Under 50 Percent: San Jose State 48, Oklahoma 47, Central Michigan 47, South Carolina 39

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Comments » 6

Xander5000 writes:

Now that we know that we are among the elite of "BRAINIACS" in academics lets use that to get tough and run and pass all over LSU so we can start being elite in football.

richardcd writes:

Well, we beat South Carolina in something besides basketball!

Xander5000 writes:

in response to sennmanthetigerfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I can definitely agree....the thing is you have the pressures from the major and local media, the boosters, the beyond over dramatic fans, and the beyond over dramatic boosters that will fall prey of keeping up with the Jones's because they all want wins and money. But a lot of those folks don't realize what the Jones's ARE REALLY UP TO......Might be asking Ole Miss that question in a few years.....Just saying.....Lots of big fish has docked at the Mississippi port lately and it definitely smells fishy.

ggordon writes:

HAHAHA...South Carolina is DEAD LAST!

kellytown writes:

Well this is the old saying if your gonna be DUMB you gotta be tough. This is the model for The university of chickens. And they take pride in being the university of south carolina. Spurrier said when he came to the chicken U that they would have to drop their academics scores to get the players he needed to make it a winning program. I would have to say they went above and beyond. How sorry for this so called university to call its self an institute of higher education. It is and institution and with these scores we know what kind.

cuGIZ82 writes:

Well if SC does not improve their GSR scores, they will lose scholarships...good news for us. Those boys over there are not book smart but they can play good D!

Truth be told, there is a lot of pressure on college coaches to win "now" and they do not care rather their players graduate or not as long as they produce on the field for 3 years then they are encouraged to enter the NFL draft.

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