The Washington Post

March Madness of graduation rates: U-Conn. loses, Notre Dame wins

Here’s something to ponder: How many of those players will leave the court with a college degree?

To see a bracket created using player graduation rates, click here.

Researchers also found there is still an “enormous gap” between the graduation rates of white and African American players, and at more than half of the schools, that disparity was more than 30 percent.

The NCAA has been examining ways to hold schools more accountable for their players’ success off the court, and many top coaches now sign multi-year contracts that allow them to earn five-digit bonuses for the academic performance of their players.

For example, Virginia Commonwealth University Coach Shaka Smart is paid $4,000 for each player he recruits who graduates soon after no longer being eligible to play, and $2,000 for each player who graduates within a year of no longer being eligible to play, according to a contract signed in June 2011. Most recently, 67 percent of VCU players graduated within six years, less than the school’s overall athlete rate of 78 percent.

Last year’s national champion, the University of Connecticut, has the lowest rate in the group, with just one out of four players earning a degree within six years. For all U-Conn. student athletes, the graduation rate is 81 percent. U-Conn. officials explain basketball’s low rate by pointing out, among other things, that many of their players are recruited to play professional basketball before getting a degree.

Head coach Jim Calhoun’s contract, signed in May 2010, states that academics are an “important aspect of his responsibilities.” If the NCAA were to revoke scholarship funds from the university as a penalty for not meeting academic benchmarks, the contract requires Calhoun to donate $100,000 to a scholarship fund.

The institute has compiled statistics for all 68 teams into a report, and I popped the six-year graduation rates for basketball players into a bracket. Here are the winners of each round:

The First Four: Western Kentucky University (100 percent) beats Mississippi Valley State University (35 percent). Brigham Young University (100) beats Iona College (53). University of Vermont (86) beats Lamar University (65). University of South Florida (44) beats University of California, Berkeley (33).

Second Round (South): W. Kentucky (100) beats University of Kentucky (69). Iowa State University (45) beats U-Conn. (25). Wichita State University (92) beats VCU (67). Indiana University, Bloomington (47) beats New Mexico State University (28). University of Nevada, Las Vegas (67) beats University of Colorado, Boulder (43). Baylor University (56) beats South Dakota State University (50). University of Notre Dame (100) beats Xavier University (93). Duke University (100) beats Lehigh University (85).

Second Round (West): Long Island University - Brooklyn Campus (91) beats Michigan State University (82). Saint Louis University (67) beats University of Memphis (55). University of New Mexico (57) beats Long Beach State University (45). Davidson College (100) beats University of Louisville (56). Colorado State University (64) beats Murray State University (56). BYU (100) beats Marquette University (91). University of Virginia (50) beats University of Florida (38). University of Missouri, Columbia (67) beats Norfolk State University (43).

Texas Longhorns and the Arizona Wildcats go up for the game opening tip-off during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Robert Meggers/Getty Images) (Robert Meggers/GETTY IMAGES)

Second Round (Midwest): University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (89) beats Vermont (86). Creighton University (100) beats University of Alabama (67). South Florida (44) beats Temple University (43). Ohio University (79) beats University of Michigan (45). North Carolina State University (80) beats San Diego State University (62). Belmont University (100) beats Georgetown University (70). St. Mary’s College of California (82) beats Purdue University (50). University of Kansas (91) beats University of Detroit Mercy (89).

Third Round (South): W. Kentucky (100) beats Iowa State (45). Wichita State (92) beats Indiana (47). UNLV (67) beats Baylor (56). Notre Dame (100) ties with Duke University (100) — so we then look at the schools’ graduation rates for all student athletes; Notre Dame wins with 99 percent, over Duke’s 97 percent.

Third Round (West): Long Island (91) beats Saint Louis (67). Davidson (100) beats New Mexico (57). BYU (100) beats Colorado State (64). Missouri (67) beats Virginia (50).

Third Round (East): UNC Asheville (57) beats Kansas State (50) . Harvard (100) beats Montana (75). Texas (67) ties with Florida State (67), in a rematch using student athlete graduation rates, Florida State (79) beats Texas (74). Loyola (92) beats West Virginia (83).

Third Round (Midwest): Creighton (100) beats North Carolina (89). Ohio (79) beats South Florida (44). Belmont (100) beats N. Carolina State (80). Kansas (91) beats St. Mary’s (82).

Peyton Siva #3 and Wayne Blackshear #25 of the Louisville Cardinals jump to block the shot of Eric Atkins #0 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the semifinals of the Big East men's basketball tournament last week. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) (Chris Trotman/GETTY IMAGES)

Elite Eight: Nearly everyone has a 100-percent graduation rate for basketball players, so we will switch to rates for student athletes. Notre Dame (99) beats W. Kentucky (80). Davidson (97) beats BYU (76). Harvard (98) beats Loyola (96). Creighton (96) beats Belmont (91).

Final Four: Notre Dame (99) beats Davidson (97). Harvard (98) beats Creighton (96).

National Champion: Notre Dame.

For on-the-court March Madness coverage this month, check out the Post’s sports section and The Early Lead blog. For off-the-court coverage, keep reading Campus Overload or follow me on Facebook and Twitter. And check out these articles:

Five myths about March Madness

BYU ‘mathletes’ film rap video ahead of March Madness

Arne Duncan: What’s missing from March Madness? Better academics. (March 2011)

VCU’s Final Four foray brings record-levels of attention (April 2011)

Jenna Johnson is a political reporter who is covering the 2016 presidential campaign.


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