March 25, 2003

Graduation rates among the Sweet 16: range from god-awful (0%!) to pretty good (86%).

"A study released Monday showed that 10 of the schools in this week's round of 16 have failed to graduate even half of their players in recent years. Black players are less likely than whites to finish their careers with degrees, according to the study of NCAA graduation rates."

Do we care? Should we care? Besides Butler, which is not a traditional basketball powerhouse and is the proud institution boasting the high graduation rate anyway, can we concede that the primary concerns of the other programs are either to prepare college players to have professional basketball careers or careers in related fields? (More on the last thought inside)

posted by vito90 to basketball at 08:10 AM - 10 comments

What I meant in the last comment was this: We frequently refer to the (un)likelihood that a player will ever land a lucrative NBA deal as the reason why there should be more emphasis on the diploma. Okay, I get that. But for every guy who signs a deal, some more guys (no idea how many more...maybe two for every one? Three? Six?) can make a good living as coaches, assistants, trainers, or playing overseas. They are good at basketball, why shouldn't their post-college career be related to basketball, and is graduating a necessity for such an endeavor?

posted by vito90 at 08:15 AM on March 25

I like where you're trying to go, Vito, I'm just not sure that you quite got there. I'm all for doing what you're interested in after college, but somehow I don't think a significant number of NCAA players go on to have sports-related careers without a degree. That's just a guess, though. An interesting documentary would be to follow the careers of guys from a team like Oklahoma, and see where they end up in five years. I'm betting most have nothing to do with Basketball. (A side note: my co-worker said she's "miffed" that you used trainers as an example. Apparently her brother is a trainer at Maryland, and he had to complete plenty of schooling for it.)

posted by Samsonov14 at 08:40 AM on March 25

For lots of reasons, many players are unprepared for the academic demands of college. Often, they’re plenty smart, but they come from homes and/or schools that cannot really provide them with the kind academic preparation they need and deserve. They’ve also absorbed a sports-first attitude from the adults around them. Colleges admit them because of their athletic talents, usually with plenty of assurances about all the wonderful help they’ll get on the classroom side of college life. Then the kids get a large campus far from home, and it’s all so different and much more difficult than they imagined, it’s no wonder they have some troubles adjusting. This goes on for a couple of semesters, and the athletes dig a hole shallow enough to keep them eligible, but deep enough to make graduation unrealistic. Then their time runs out and schools recruit new guys and it’s out the door, we loved watching you play, and thank you for your efforts. The old college try, so to speak. Yes, many other students come to college from less-than-ideal backgrounds, and lots of them do just fine. (But lots of them drop out, too. Nationally, only about 75% of all freshman at 4 year schools return for their sophomore year.) But the demands on student-athletes’ time and energy are unusual and would make anyone’s college career more difficult. I’m an advisor to lots of high school seniors, several of them athletes bound for D-I football and basketball programs, and I always give them some version of your terrific idea, Vito. I tell them they have all kinds of talents that can keep them in the world of sports that they love so much, and that to think of themselves as players only is to sell themselves short.

posted by jason streed at 08:46 AM on March 25

Article quotes Lapchick making a good point: Freshman should not play. Is someone like Carmelo Anthony really served by spending a year at Syracuse before declaring for the draft? Then again, this just brings the discussion right back to the primal question: Are college sports supposed to make money and prepare (some) players for the pros or provide a well-rounded experience as young people prepare to live in the adult world? Or even more basic: Is it all about the Benjamins everywhere in life these days?

posted by billsaysthis at 11:11 AM on March 25

The point made about the criteria for assembling these numbers is very valid. It's absolutely ridiculous that schools don't get credit for transfers or JC athletes who graduate. I haven't seen any actual numbers, but the rate of transfers for athletes has got to be significantly higher than for non. And you can be assured that all JC transfers who graduate a school are included in whatever totaling is done for the school as a whole. It seems the question becomes, Is the only point of going to college to get a degree? Did Carmello Anthony benefit, even a little, from what will likely be his only year of college? Id like to believe yes, but who really knows. I dont really have a problem with a player coming in for a year and leaving, but I know some academic purists who feel this practice devalues everything for which a university stands. Vito: Im constantly surprised at the number (and quality) of basketball players who are able to go overseas and make good livings. Ill bet the number is nearer six or eight to every one who gets to the NBA (which would include guys who float around on the NBA periphery through 10 day contracts and the like). Does this necessarily make for a career? Not usually, but it does make for great life experiences and some inevitable maturation. Maybe then they can come back and get their degrees. Oh, but why bother. The only entity that really matters, the NCAA, wont count it.

posted by kloeprich at 01:40 PM on March 25

Kloeprich, general agreement. Also, annoying that the article doesn't really quantify what the non-basketball team member graduation rate (all and african-american) is for these schools, as a basis for comparison.

posted by billsaysthis at 01:43 PM on March 25

billsaysthis: This article has a chart (scroll down) with the grad rates of the players and of the overall student body.

posted by pitchblende at 01:48 PM on March 25

My theory is that any article about college sports should reference the graduation rate for the schools being discussed. The emphasis is always on the sport, not the college, and that, it seems to me, is misplaced. Maybe the kid being recruted into the program doesn't care, but I think the schools care, and they would clean up their acts if they began to aquire the reputaiton for exploiting their athletes. Make no mistake about it, exploitation is what this is, and it is not really necessary-- there are schools (not "programs"-- please) that put competitive teams on the floor-- or the field, or whatever-- without exploiting their students.

posted by outside counsel at 02:47 PM on March 25

If Carmelo Anthony wasn't allowed to play as a freshman, he'd go pro. My view of the problem is that after a player completes high school, the only options he has are to either go to an institution of higher learning, or jump to the pros. If someone wants basketball as a career, what are they doing in college? Why are we making them go? Create a semi-professional league, like in Europe. It'll never happen, but it should.

posted by chmurray at 04:08 PM on March 25

I'm a stat in the article. % of Overall men's student body who graduate from the University in 4 years. Never figured that would happen. These stats always remind me of the saying along the lines"all that can be counted counts and all that can't be counted should count." If you WANT to get the degree you will work towards it. Finishing in 4, 5, 10 years. Vince Carter being an example who went and finished years later. The scholarship and sports only provide an entry key, the rest is up to the individual.

posted by brent at 10:16 PM on March 25

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