Surprisingly Low Graduation Rate Mars SEC Basketball PowerhousePosted by Brian Joyce on October 26th, 2012
Men’s basketball graduation rates for Division I athletes are on the rise, according to the most recent report from the NCAA. Nearly three-quarters of men’s basketball players in the last reported age cohort obtained a college degree, an increase of six percent from last year. However, not all men’s basketball programs are making the grade. Of late, the SEC’s very own national championship Kentucky program has been criticized for its lack of (apparent) commitment to the academic side of the student-athlete, but it was another SEC basketball powerhouse that limped in on the NCAA’s 2011-12 report with a staggering graduation rate of 17 percent.
Florida coach Billy Donovan discussed a variety of topics during yesterday’s SEC Media days, but success in the classroom was not 0ne of them. Maybe it should have been. Donovan was critical of the Kentucky All-Access show aired by ESPN beginning last week, claiming that he “wouldn’t want the disruption” for his student-athletes. “I want our guys to focus on being normal college students,” the Gator coach stated. “But at the same point, maybe it’s good exposure for those guys. Maybe it’s exposure that will help them later in life. But I would be sensitive to that.”
Yet for all the talk about avoiding “disruption” and focusing on “normal college students,” it was Donovan’s Gators that embarrassed the SEC with an astonishingly low six year graduation rate of 17 percent. Since the NCAA began collecting this data 11 years ago, men’s basketball as a whole has risen by 18 percent. But NCAA President Mark Emmert has not quite reached the end goal. “There is some illusion out there that being a great athlete and being a great student is incompatible,” Emmert said. “We are delighted that both (football and basketball) have reached 70 percent this year. We are not satisfied, but are certainly pleased that seven out of 10 of these athletes are earning degrees.”
The SEC as a whole failed to impress in the NCAA’s report. The six-year graduation rates for the basketball programs of the 12 member institutions for last year is as follows:
Click here to see all NCAA Division I programs and six-year graduation rates for the 2005-11 cohort and all previous years.
The concept of the student-athlete is certainly not a perfect one, and there is work yet to be done. While these numbers fluctuate from year to year (and it will be interesting, in several years, to analyze Kentucky’s six year graduation rates with John Calipari at the helm), it is currently Donovan and his Florida Gators that need to create fewer “disruptions” for its student athletes to succeed in all areas of campus life.
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.