Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Calls for Minimum Academic Benchmarks for Postseason Participation

On the heels of the 2010 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, published comments on the need for American major colleges and universities to impose policies which prohibit postseason competition of teams who fail to graduate at least 40% of their athletes. Stated Secretary Duncan, “It’s a low bar, frankly, and not many teams would be ineligible. Over time, we should set a higher bar. But it’s a minimum, a bright line, which every program should meet to vie for post-season honors.”

Duncan’s comments were made in a joint presentation with Richard Lapchick, Director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, and Benjamin Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. The presentation was in regards to the poor graduation rates of men’s basketball teams, and in particular, the gap in graduation rates between white and black men’s basketball players. As stated in the Boston Globe, the NCAA, which found 56 percent of black basketball players now graduate from Division 1 teams while White players have an 81 percent graduation rate. More specifically, of the 65 participating teams, there were 24 with black graduation rates of 67 percent or higher, but there were also 28 teams with black graduation rates of 44 percent or lower.

According to the USA Today and ABC News, In this year’s NCAA tournament, 12 men’s basketball teams have graduation rates below 40 percent: the University of Kentucky, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Baylor University, the University of California at Berkeley, Clemson University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Louisville, the University of Maryland at College Park, the University of Missouri at Columbia, New Mexico State University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and the University of Washington.