Education Secretary Duncan Suggests Banning Low-Graduation Rate Schools from NCAA Tournament…Including Kentucky

Friday, March 19, 2010

Next to President Barack Obama, there may not be a bigger basketball fan in the current administration than Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. But education comes first for the former college and professional player who says the NCAA should ban colleges and universities with low athlete graduation rates from sending teams to the annual basketball tournament.

For Duncan, the threshold should be 40%--either that percentage or higher of players on a college team must graduate, or the school is out of the NCAA tournament. Duncan said there should be no exceptions, even for Final Four favorites like the University of Kentucky (which President Obama has picked to make the Final Four).
The University of Maryland, a former national champion in both men’s and women’s basketball, was held up by Representative John Campbell (R-California) as one bad example of athletics trumping scholastics. The men’s team won it all in 2002 while only 8% of the squad completed its degrees.
Maryland’s coach, Gary Williams, disputed the number, insisting the rate was skewed by several high-profile players leaving early to turn pro.
The 12 low-graduation teams that made it to the 2010 tournament, but would have been excluded by Duncan’s standards (with their graduation rates and their bracket seeds) are:
Maryland—8%; #4
California—20%; #8
Arkansas-Pine Bluff—29%; #16
Washington—29%; #11
Tennessee—30%; #6
Kentucky—31%; #1
Butler—36%; #5
Missouri—36%; #10
New Mexico State—36%; #12
Clemson—37%; #7
Georgia Tech—38%; #10
Louisville—38%; #9
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


Leave a comment