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Study Shows Black Male NCAA Basketball Players More Likely to Graduate When They Have a Black Head Coach

The gap in the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) between Black and white NCAA Division I male basketball players has increased since last year. At the same time, teams with Black head coaches have a higher graduation rate.

Those findings came from a study recently released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida.

According to a study, Black male NCAA basketball players are graduating at a lower rate than white players. (Photo: Porter Binks / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images)

The study surrounds the male and female basketball teams that were projected to be invited to this year’s NCAA Tournament. Past studies have used teams that actually were invited, but due to the tournament being canceled because of COVID-19, researchers used an ESPN bracket that projected who would be in.

The findings showed the GSR for white male players was 94.3 percent, compared to 80 percent for Black male players, which is a 14.3 percent gap. That number is up from 12.6 percent shown in the previous year’s study.

Despite those numbers being far better than the 32-point gap that was shown in 2011’s study and the 24 percent in 2015, Richard Lapchick, the director of TIDES, said he finds the results “disappointing” and “discouraging.” But the graduation rate in total for Black players is up compared to last year, which he said was a big positive.

“The good news outweighs the bad news,” Lapchick said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The bad news means we just have to keep looking at that gap and trying to narrow it.”

Meanwhile, the GSR for white female NCAA basketball players was 95.9 percent and 89.6 percent for Black female players, showing a 6.3 percent gap. That’s lower than the 7.4 from the year before.

Overall, there was a 10.2 percentage gap between the women basketball players who graduated (93 percent) and the men (82.8 percent), just a bit lower than the 10.8 gap in the previous year’s study.

Other results showed teams that had a Black head coach graduated players at a higher average of 84.5 percent than the 82.3 percent of teams led by white coaches.

The GSR for the women was also higher for female athletes who had a woman for their head coach at 93.9 percent.

In separate findings in 2019, TIDES pointed to a dramatic lack of Black head coaches in Division 1 athletics, particularly in basketball and football, two sports that have a predominance of Black athletes. It’s something the NFL has recently been blasted for when it comes to the diversity in their head coaching positions.

In NCAA basketball, for example, out of the 75 college basketball programs in the six main conferences, there were only 14 head black coaches last year.

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