Duncan Challenges NCAA Again

March 18, 2010

In a news conference on the eve of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he would like to see teams whose graduation rates are below 40 percent banned from postseason play. Duncan issued an identical challenge in a high-profile speech at the NCAA's annual convention in January. By Duncan’s proposed standard, 12 teams with poor four-year average graduation rates would miss this year’s men’s basketball tournament: Baylor University (36 percent), Clemson University (37 percent), Georgia Institute of Technology (38 percent), New Mexico State University (36 percent), University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (29 percent), University of California at Berkeley (20 percent), University of Kentucky (31 percent), University of Louisville (38 percent), University of Maryland at College Park (8 percent), University of Missouri at Columbia (36 percent), University of Tennessee at Knoxville (30 percent) and University of Washington (29 percent). These graduation rates do not punish teams for players who leave college early as long as they leave in good academic standing. Though the NCAA began banning teams from postseason play for poor academic performance for the first time just last year -- based on its system of Academic Progress Rates -- Duncan said these reforms do not go far enough. The NCAA, however, defended its method of holding teams accountable for their academic performance. “The NCAA shares Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s concern over some institutions that have low graduation rates among their basketball teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament,” Erik Christianson, NCAA spokesman, explained in a statement. "However, imposing a ban on teams for the academic performance of student-athletes who entered as freshman 8-11 years ago is probably not the best course of action. Basing post-season bans on graduation rates penalizes the wrong students."

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