Graduation rate lags between college basketball players, other students
Division I basketball • Study shows good news is that the gap is shrinking, if only slightly.
Published: January 10, 2013 04:50PM
Updated: May 5, 2013 11:32PM

Graduation rates of men and women who play NCAA Division I college basketball continue to lag far behind those of other full-time students, according to a study conducted by the College Sport Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Generally, the graduation-rate gap between NCAA D-I men’s basketball players and male members of the student body was around 20 percent in 2012. The graduation gap between women’s basketball players and their counterparts was around 9 percent.

The gap at what the report terms “major” conferences — including the Pac-12 Conference, which includes Utah — is even larger: about 30 percent for men and 13 percent for women.

The gap at so-called “mid-major” conferences such as the West Coast Conference (BYU), the Western Athletic Conference (Utah State) and the Big Sky Conference (Weber State, Southern Utah) is not as sizeable as those at major conferences, but significant nonetheless.

The positive news, according to the CSRI report, is that the gap at most schools is decreasing, if only slightly.

The CSRI’s third annual report indicates the gap decreased from 2011 to 2012 some 2.3 percentage points for major conference men’s basketball players and 1.2 percentage points for women.

“The [AGG report] continues to provide statistical evidence that many D-I basketball players do not graduate at rates comparable to full-time students at their respective universities. This deserves further examination,” said report co-author Mark S. Nagel.

Richard Southall, director of the CSRI, suggests that a possible reason for the graduation gaps is “arduous practice and travel schedules [that] impact their opportunity to study and graduate” and notes that “Division I basketball schedules are travel intensive and often require extensive missed class time.”

For women, the gaps were -14 in the Pac-12, -24 in the WAC, -8 in the WCC and -21 in the Big Sky in 2012.

For men, the gaps were -36 in the Pac-12, -30 in the WAC, -19 in the WCC and -25 in the Big Sky in 2012.

The study also found that the gap for black men’s basketball players (26.7) at all D-I schools is significantly greater than that of white players (14.6). However, the gap between black and white women’s basketball players was not statistically significant.

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay