Percentage of the 4,000+ students who play Division 1 men’s basketball who will go on to professional sports careers: 0.8
Percentage of NCAA men’s basketball players who entered college in 1997 and had graduated by 2003: 44
Number of the teams in last year’s March Madness, out of 65, that would not have qualified to play for the national championship if a 50-percent graduation rate was required for players: 43
Approximate number of colleges that last year “asked the NCAA for leniency” when it began handing out penalties to teams that had not met the Academic Progress Rate standards: 400 [Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/18/05]
Average salary of a worker with a bachelor’s degree in 2004, according the U.S. Census Bureau: $51,206, versus $27,915 for a high school graduate
Average revenues for a Division 1-A athletic program in 2003: $29.4 million, up 17.2 percent from 2001
Number of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams that did not graduate a single African-American student-athlete from 1999-2004: 45, out of 328
Percentage of Division I men’s basketball players who are African-American: 58
Number of NCAA Division I women’s basketball teams that did not graduate a single African-American student-athlete from 1999-2004: 27
Number of Final Four teams in last year’s tournament sponsored by Nike: 4
ACADEMIC SUCCESS IS CRITICAL FOR STUDENT-ATHLETES: NCAA student-athletes graduate at significantly lower rates than university students generally, a problem compounded by the fact that only a small number of student-athletes go onto professional sports careers. Students who drop out of college lose valuable skills for their adult lives, and typically earn about half as much as college graduates.
NCAA WARNS OF DWINDLING EMPHASIS ON ACADEMICS: A new draft report by an NCAA presidential task force warns that the “ever-larger sums of money spent on college sports” create “a looming crisis” that could threaten schools’ integrity. “The prospect of distortion and even corruption of the academic values of individual institutions is very real, and in time, the entire academic enterprise can be diminished.” Student-athlete academic success must remain a high priority in college athletics. As John Swofford, Commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, has emphasized, college sport “is a business being conducted in an educational setting with an educational mission. That’s the difference.”
CORPORATE SPONSORS HAVE THE POWER TO IMPROVE ACADEMIC SUCCESS: Corporate sponsors such as Nike, Reebok, and Adidas provide critical resources to collegiate athletics programs. However, since successful coaches and teams are more likely to receive lucrative sponsorship deals, both coaches and their departments face pressure to emphasize athletics at the expense of academics. Last November, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics “lamented the increasing number of colleges that are pushing to give athletics scholarships and playing time to those low-performing students only to cast them aside if they fail in the classroom.” Corporate sponsors are in a unique position to use market pressure to incentivize increased focus on academic success.