Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated a call he made last year for the National Collegiate Athletic Association to require that colleges participating in the Division I men's basketball tournament have players on track to graduate at a minimum rate. Duncan increased his plea from a minimum expected graduation rate of 40 percent to a rate of at least 50 percent, after a report found low expected graduation rates among some of the teams in the tournament this year and vast disparities between the rates of black and white players.
The report, conducted by Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida, found that 66 percent of the players on teams participating in the men's tournament are expected to graduate. But the report found "alarming" differences in graduation rates among competing colleges and racial groups. At Kansas State University, 100 percent of white players are expected to graduate, compared with 14 percent of black players. Such findings are “unconscionable,” said Duncan, who suggested the NCAA use the Academic Progress Rate to judge colleges on their students’ expected graduation rates, preventing institutions with an anticipated graduation rate below 50 percent from going to the NCAA tournament. “The big kahuna is the opportunity to go to the tournament,” he said. “So if we draw a clear line there, a bright line in the sand, then behavior will change.”