A study of graduation rates for teams in the women’s college basketball championship tournament found higher numbers than those in the men’s event and a smaller disparity between white and black players.
The 64 teams in the women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, which begins March 17, had an average graduation rate of 89 percent, with an 8 percent gap between rates for white and black players, according to the study by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. Rates are calculated by how many athletes graduate within six years of entering school.
The women’s numbers are higher than scores for the 68 teams in the NCAA men’s tournament, which were released this week. Men’s teams had a graduation rate of 67 percent, and a 28 percent gap between white and black athletes.
“Historically, women’s basketball student-athletes place great importance on academics and the data supports this claim,” Richard Lapchick, author of the study and chairman of Central Florida’s DeVos Sports Business Management Graduate Program, said in a statement. “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 decreased disparity between white and African-American student-athletes.”
The race disparity in the women’s scores, unlike that of the men, didn’t improve from last year’s numbers. White female athletes are graduating at a rate of 93 percent versus 85 percent for blacks, maintaining the 8 percent gap from 2011. The male athletes closed the race disparity by 4 percentage points since last year.
The University of Notre Dame, last year’s runner-up and one of the four No. 1 seeds in the 2012 women’s tournament, is among 22 teams in this year’s field with a graduation rate of 100 percent. Others include Ivy League-champion Princeton University, Penn State University and Duke University.
“Women’s teams continue to achieve at this high rate, with 98 percent of the teams graduating at least 50 percent of their basketball student-athletes,” Lapchick said. “In comparison, only 79 percent of the men’s teams in this year’s tournament graduated at least 50 percent of their basketball student-athletes.”