Education Secretary wants NCAA March Madness reforms
March 17th, 2011
07:12 PM ET

Education Secretary wants NCAA March Madness reforms

WASHINGTON (CNN) – March Madness could have a whole new meaning if the Department of Education gets its way. The US Department of Education is calling on the NCAA to ban teams that don't graduate a majority of their players.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan backed a call by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to ban schools who graduate less than 50% of their players from tournament play and to restructure the revenue distribution for teams with failing rates.  

“If you can’t manage to graduate half of your players, how serious is the institution- the coach and the program about the players’ academic success?” Duncan said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

In a report released by the Knight Commission on Thursday, 10 out of the 68 teams in this year’s March Madness are not on pace to graduate more than half of their players and a large discrepancy exists between the graduation rates for white and black players at some schools.

Eight teams in this year’s tournament, including Illinois, Villanova and Utah State, have a 100% graduation rate for both black and white players. But some teams have a discrepancy rate as high as 86%. At Kansas State University, 100% of white players graduated but only 14% of black players earned their diplomas. Women’s teams fared better with 22 teams having a 100% graduation rate with both white and black players.

The report also says that in the past five years, nearly $179 million dollars have gone to schools that don’t meet the minimum NCAA graduation rate and Duncan insists the best way to get quick results is to ban their eligibility in the tournament play.

“If the student athletes, but the coaches and the institutions themselves, the universities understood they’d be prohibited from competing if they couldn’t maintain a minimum of half of their students graduating, I promise you, I absolutely guarantee you over the next year or two you would see all of these programs dramatically improve their graduation rates,” Duncan said. “I will also tell you until we prohibit their participation, until we deal the financial revenue piece of this, we’ll continue just to get lip service.”

Duncan, who played college basketball at Harvard, said the issue is particularly personal one to him as he saw team members and other fellow players who didn’t graduate from college face many difficult challenges in life, all because they didn’t have a college degree.


Topics: Arne Duncan • NCAA • The News

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Liz Carter in Georgia

    'Lines' Jay! I can appreciate the need for players to acquire a highschool diploma, but to actually mandate them to graduate college before they can play pro ball is pushing it! Granted, this nation's always pushed college degrees as THE biggest credential one needed for securing a decent job, but from the way things have been going, it doesn't quite hold true anymore. It no longer insures job protection! Many college grads are jobless today; most likely in need of going back to school! TECHNICAL SCHOOLS!

    March 19, 2011 at 5:18 am |
  2. Liz Carter in Georgia

    It's always going to be blacks vs whites in AMERICA! Now I can relate to the fact that our children need to get the best education they can in order to succeed in life, but I also know that the idea of graduating 'college' isn't always the means to that end. Everybody's NOT college material; some people have been blessed, some people have had lucky breaks, some people have crafts, gifts, and are skilled in some GOD-GIVEN talent! SOME PLAY BALL! If hard work is put into these gifts, success is sure to come!!

    March 19, 2011 at 5:39 am |
  3. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Now people have made pretty successful lives for themselves with just a highschool education. Many finished back in my day, went on to the military or went on to work at pretty reputable companies; raised families retired from them and are doing ok! Many of us did go to college to find out it was still hard to find jobs in your field when you did graduate! Like me; I couldn't play ball but I ended up working for the 'feds', which I didn't even need a degree for that entry level. You just have to be skilled!

    March 19, 2011 at 5:58 am |
  4. Liz Carter in Georgia

    This is what I've come to believe about our black football and basketball players, they're usually so very polished in their work, their JOBS, and have honed their skills so well, that owners and managers; NFL/NBA has been paying these black professional ball players TOO much, for the hateful, jealous, bigoted white society to can stand anymore! There are many, many white players who also get paid the big bucks, but not as many as the blacks! OH NO! Too many blacks; making too much money, throwing a ball!

    March 19, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  5. Liz Carter in Georgia

    This is what I can't understand. Why all of a sudden people want to claim to care about black AMERICAN 'BALLERS' having to face challenges in life, all because they didn't have a degree? There are many of us in many other jobs/professions who have had to face challenges, while earning waaaay less money than a 'baller'; blanketed excuse is always because we didn't have a 'degree'! We make it anyway! Why start worrying about the futures of the black people who're in fact making enough to live now, and later?

    March 19, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  6. Liz Carter in Georgia

    The reason is, you all don't want a black man being better than you at doing anything unless it's serving, subservient work, PERIOD! He sure won't need to be making more money than 'us whites'! If there were more white boys being recruited out of highschool or college, who played extraordinarily well and were also paid large sums of money to go play with team A or team B, this whole FED-butting into private enterprise business policies/salaries would be a non-issue! 'Difficult challenges in life? RIGHT!

    March 19, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  7. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Are we going to take the same stance on HOLLYWOOD actors and I still like to refer to the women as actresses? Most of them don't have a college 'degree'! Many of them didn't even finish highschool! Are we going to start telling HOLLYWOOD how to cap off their salaries? I think not! I believe the reason would surprise most. There are more black actors and actresses out there, who have in fact, actually got diplomas, some college, and some degrees, than whites! So we don't want to open up that can of worms!

    March 19, 2011 at 7:21 am |