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Study Finds Black Student-Athletes Graduate At Lower Rates

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(Flickr – Dirk Hansen)Black student-athletes — specifically football and men’s basketball players Power-5 schools — graduate at a lower rate than their African American classmates who do not participate in sports.

Since African Americans make up the majority of college football and basketball players — 56 and 61 percent, respectively — the NCAA is failing most of its marquee student-athletes and must immediately address this systemic problem.

Should college scholarships no longer be the dream for black student-athletes?

Harry Swayne, a scholarship football player at Rutgers and a 14-year NFL veteran, believes that student-athletes have become too preoccupied with the idea of going pro and disregard the value of a free education. He told the Associated Presss:

Statistically, more than likely, they won’t make it. We don’t want to talk them out of their dreams; we just want to give them some reality, too. We want to introduce them to some other possibilities for when football is over, because it is coming to an end sooner than they think and sooner than they’re ready for.”

Do college scholarships affect the perception versus reality of going pro

Every college student-athlete thinks that they are going to make it to the pros, but the odds are heavily stacked against them. Only 1.2 percent of college basketball players and just 1.6 percent of college football players get drafted by the NBA or NFL. Even if a student-athlete is one of those one-percenters, the average NBA career is 4.8 years long, while the average NFL career is 3.5 years long, shorter than the standard college career.

Given these bleak numbers, it makes no sense for a student-athlete to leave college without a degree. It’s also a primary reason why NCSA Athletic Recruiting recommends finding the right academic, athletic and social fit.

NBA’s one-and-done rule needs to be changed

A few years back, the NBA instituted the one-and-done rule, which allows college student-athletes to declare for the NBA Draft after only one year of school. It was supposed to be a win-win for the NCAA and NBA, making the best players compete in college and also giving them an extra year to mature for the pros.

That sounds all well and good, but the one-and-done rule, coupled with guaranteed smaller NBA rookie contracts, inadvertently gave student-athletes a major finical incentive to leave for the pros. In order to make the most money, NBA players must get their rookie deal over with as soon as possible and then sign their second and much more lucrative contract.

Hard dose of reality for college student-athletes

Top college football and basketball players benefit from extra academic support, yet they are too often coddled and extolled by the media and fellow students. It’s easy to understand why a 19-year old college freshman with seemingly unlimited physical gifts and tons of positive reenforcement might think he’s going to be a star at the next level.

Let’s all remember when we are enjoying the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this weekend that the hyperactive student with the face paint and crazy antics has a better chance of graduating than the stoic, disciplined world-class athlete at the free throw line.


We’re here to help you prepare for your transition into college so you can earn a meaningful degree at a school that’s the right academic, athletic and social fit. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Tom Johnson