Another failing grade for U of M


The University of Minnesota football team is among the worst in academic performance – specifically, in the rate at which it graduates Black players – according to a recent study of bowl-bound teams.

In “Keeping Score When It Counts: Assessing the 2009-10 Bowl-bound College Football Teams – Academic Performance Improves but Race Still Matters,” The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) Director Richard Lapchick noted that the gap between White and Black football student-athletes has not improved.

Lapchick annually studies the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools that are participating in college football bowl games. Minnesota is among them; the Gophers will play Iowa State in the Insight Bowl December 31 in Tempe, Arizona.

The overall 2009-10 graduation success rate (GSR) for Black football players is 59 percent, the same as reported in his 2008-09 report, while the GSR for White players increased one percent, from 76 percent last year to 77 percent this year. Lapchick’s report also reveals that:

  • 57 schools had graduation success rates of 66 percent or higher for White football players (up from 56 in 2008-09).

• 21 schools graduated less than 50 percent of their Black players (up from 19 in 2008-09), while only two schools graduated less than 50 percent of their White players.
• Seven schools (up from five schools a year ago) graduated less than 40 percent of their Black players, while no school graduated less than 40 percent of their White players.
• 14 schools had graduation success rates for Black players that were at least 30 percent lower than the rates for White players (up from 12 schools in 2008-09).
• 35 schools had graduation success rates for Black players that were at least 20 percent lower than their rates for Whites (up from 29 schools last year).
This disparity is “the most troubling information in the graduation success rate study,” says the TIDES director, who used the NCAA GSR report that was released in November.

The U of M is among the 21 bowl-bound teams that graduated less than 50 percent of their Black players and the worst among the seven Big Ten schools participating in bowl games this year. Furthermore, the Gophers’ 40-point disparity between Black (39 percent) and White (79 percent) graduation rates is among the worst of the 68 FBS schools and second-worst among the seven Big Ten schools.

Iowa State, the Gophers’ Insight Bowl opponent, graduates only 44 percent of its Black players but 90 percent of its White players – a 46-percent disparity. Only four other schools have a GSR worse than Minnesota’s for its Black players, including the nation’s second-ranked team Texas (37 percent),
Only four schools had better a GSR for its Black players than for Whites, the report showed: Connecticut (five percent higher), Troy (seven percent higher), Southern Miss (eight percent higher) and Rutgers (four percent higher).

Texas and Alabama, which has a 63 percent GSR for its Black players and 77 percent for its White players, a 14-percent disparity, are playing for the national championship.

But according to Lapchick, “If there were a national championship based on graduation success rates among bowl teams, Navy and Northwestern would have played for the national championship. Both teams graduated at least 92 percent of all football student-athletes and at least 83 percent of African American football student-athletes.”

NCAA Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Charlotte Westerhaus last week provided the MSR with this “NCAA reaction” to Lapchick’s report: “We are pleased with the progress student-athletes overall and in football continue to make in the classroom. There is still room for improvement, but the trend lines are moving in the right direction.”

To see the entire TIDES report, go to
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-