Women's NCAA teams post strong graduation numbers
The 64 schools in the women's NCAA basketball tournament combined to graduate 90 percent of their players.
The findings are part of the annual report released Tuesday by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.
The study also shows the gap between graduation rates of white and African-American players shrunk to 6 percentage points. White athletes graduated at a 94 percent rate; African-Americans at 88 percent.
The graduation rates for the women's teams in this year's NCAA postseason are significantly higher than those of the men - 90 percent to 70 percent. Twenty-five of 64 teams have a 100 percent graduation rate
Only one women's team - Tennessee-Martin - falls below the NCAA's new benchmark for academic progress, and that could lead to penalties.
Richard Lapchick, the study's primary author, was pleased that the gap between white and African-American graduation rates continues to decline among female players. The gap was 8 percentage points last year.
''The women's teams always give us good news to report each year,'' Lapchick said. ''It has historically been clear that student-athletes on women's basketball teams graduate at a higher rate than student-athletes on men's basketball teams. Additionally, the disparity gap between white and African-American student-athletes has always been significantly smaller on women's teams compared to men's teams.''
There was a 25 percent gap in graduation rates in the men's NCAA tournament field - 90 percent for white players and 65 percent for black players.
All of the team's in this year's women's NCAA tournament field graduated at least 60 percent of their players except for Hampton.
The NCAA recently voted to increase its Academic Progress Rate cutoff line for Division I schools from 925 to 930, which is roughly equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate. The new standard is being phased into the NCAA's average starting this year. Programs that do not meet the new standard could receive penalties, including the loss of scholarships or a postseason ban.
''Women's basketball student-athletes are truly representative of the balance that is needed to be a student-athlete in today's collegiate environment,'' Lapchick said. ''Hopefully, in the future, women's basketball student-athletes will continue to succeed, the men will continue to do better, and we will see a further decrease in the disparity between white and African-American student-athletes.''