An alternative, annual study of athletes’ graduation rates has again found that football players, especially those who are black, completed college within six years at rates lower than male non-athletes. The formula used in the Adjusted Graduation Gap study, out of the University of South Carolina’s Collegiate Sport Research Institute, calculates graduation rates differently than the Federal Graduation Rate and the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate: because athletes are required to take full course loads, the AGG omits part-time students from the data, resulting in larger gaps between the athletes and non-athletes. While the NCAA consistently reports that athletes graduate at higher rates than non-athletes overall, the AGG finds the opposite.
Throughout Division I's Football Bowl Series programs, the 2013 football report found (findings are published quarterly by sport), athletes who entered college in 2005 graduated at rates 18 percentage points lower than non-athletes, and black players lagged by 24 percentage points. Consistent with previous findings, the five major FBS conferences showed the widest gaps, with the Pac-12 Conference faring the worst (a 28-percentage point gap), and the Big East (now the American Athletic) Conference finishing on top with just an 18-point difference. But the smallest gap overall, of 12 percentage points, was in the Mountain West Conference. However, smaller conferences did not necessarily fare better than larger ones in terms of race. For example, the Atlantic Coast and Mid-American Conference both had black football players graduating at rates 21 percentage points lower than white players.
At the smaller Football Championship Series programs, the mean AGG was only 9 percentage points -- a 10-point gap among black athletes and 6-point gap among whites. Players in one conference, the Southwestern Atlantic, actually graduated at rates 8 percentage points higher than non-athletes.