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In a press call coinciding with the kickoff of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said college presidents, trustees and coaches need to take up a “different set of values” and worry more about graduation and less about on-court victories. Citing the large gap in graduation rates between white and black male athletes (up to 30 percentage points on some basketball teams) and the 11:1 difference in value of contractual coach bonuses for athletic success vs. academic success, Duncan called for a “better, healthier balance.”

“It will take courageous leadership by governing boards and college presidents and willingness to engage,” Duncan said, “and challenge the status quo.” Duncan suggested more financial incentives for better, more equal graduation rates – or disincentives for failure to produce such a result – could improve athletes’ academic performance.