OTHER OPINIONS: Few NCAA champions with athlete diplomas

By Charlotte Observer editorial board blog

Kentucky took the college basketball champion’s title Monday, beating Kansas 67-59. But the Jayhawks bested the Wildcats in a place where it counts more – in the classroom. An annual analysis of graduation rates and academic progress at the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Team schools shows Kansas graduates 91 percent of its players and Kentucky just 69 percent.
In a mock academic tourney complete with brackets, Kansas was named the winner over its opponent in a championship game. That opponent? Our own Davidson College, which graduates 100 percent of its male basketball students.
Kansas and Kentucky, the last ones standing for the athletic contest on Monday, were both dubbed academically good enough to be part of the mock tourney.
Still, Kentucky coach John Calipari’s one-and-done philosophy for winning is nothing to cheer. The idea of recruiting players who plan to go to the NBA within a year and never intend to get a degree is anathema to the idea of a “student athlete.” There is simply no incentive to be a committed student.
The one-and-done should be outlawed. The NBA rules should be consistent with the NFL draft rules that say NCAA football players aren’t eligible for the NFL draft until they have been out of high school for three years. Requiring at least three years of school for basketballers as well makes sense.
The sad truth is that the men’s NCAA Division I basketball players have one of the worst graduation rates in college sports. According to the study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, more than a dozen schools didn’t graduate at least half their players in recent seasons. Among the more egregious big name schools were the University of Connecticut, which graduates 25 percent of its players, and the University of Florida which graduates 38 percent.
The numbers are even worse when black players are separated out. Florida only graduates 20 percent of its black players. The University of California at Berkeley only graduates 14 percent.
Students deserve better. The NCAA has a lot of work to do to preserve the integrity of the term student-athlete.
Charlotte Observer editorial board blog