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New Study Reveals Same Sorry Story for Black Male Athletes and Graduation Rates

Florida State University among the worst offenders.

By Ricardo A. Hazell January 06, 2014, 04:19 PM EST


For decades the knock on major college athletics as they pertain to the graduation rates of African American male student athletes has been that, in many instances, participation in successful Division I sports has been a detriment to athletes finishing their college educations. 

In the study, by Dr. Shaun Harper of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at Penn State Graduate School of Education, the data reveals several startling facts regarding the underbelly of college athletes in 2014.  Coaches speak of the sorry graduation rates of the late 80s, early 90s as if they happened in a vacuum in another dimension, and consistently rail against any assumption that their respective programs are anything other than football farm systems when given the podium to do so.

However the research compiled in this report, titled Black Males & Bowl Championships, reveals an all too familiar pattern.  The report found that while African American male students only made up 3 percent of the overall undergraduate population at the top 25 BCS schools, 60 percent of those students were football players. Also found in the study, 50 percent of black male student-athletes from the seven major NCAA Division I schools graduate within six years compared to 67% percent of student athletes overall. Of the five major bowl games that have been or will be televised over the holiday season, only Stanford University, which participated in the Rose Bowl, has a higher than average graduation rate for black male athletes at 82 percent.  The rest hover at around 50 percent.  

The worst offenders were Oklahoma University, with a 42 percent graduation rate, while BCS National Championship participant Florida State University has an absolutely dreadful graduation rate of 37 percent.  Take that with your nacho dip and beer as you watch the Seminoles take on the Auburn Tigers and their 51 percent graduation rate this evening. Because contrary to what some might believe, most of these guys will not become professional athletes.




Ricardo A. Hazell is a veteran journalist with over 16 years’ experience honing his craft.  His works have been featured in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The Root, Black Beat magazine,, Bleacher Report,,, Black Collegian magazine and scores of other reputable print and digital publications. He excels at long form writing. Versatility and community insight are his specialties. Mr. Hazell currently covers Entertainment, Social Commentary, and Sports for The Shadow League. You can follow him on Twitter @NikosMightyDad or subscribe to his Youtube page at

View more from Ricardo A. Hazell, a site dedicated to presenting journalistically sound sports coverage with a cultural perspective that insightfully informs sports fans worldwide. Founded and developed by media entrepreneur Keith Clinkscales, TSL is owned by Shadow League Digital a multi-platform content creation company.