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March 30th, 2012
05:45 PM ET

The Real March Madness

Just how far will a college go to win the NCAA tournament? For a few teams the Secretary of Education calls "bad apples," it may be too far. These schools are not putting true student athletes on the court.

A new study of graduation rates will show almost half of the African American student athletes who will play in the NCAA basketball tournament will not graduate. And at some schools, the graduation rate for basketball players -black and white- is abysmal.

At UConn for instance, over the last four years, an average of only 25% of its men's basketball players graduated and only 14% of its African American players got a degree. Kentucky had a 31% graduation average. At Syracuse it's just about half. CNN's Drew Griffin investigates.

Don't miss 'The Real March Madness' this Sunday during an all new CNN Presents at 8:00 pm ET, re-airing at 11:00 pm and 2:00 am ET.

Filed under: Drew Griffin
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Katie Farnham

    While I wholeheartedly agree that every student athlete's goal should be to attain a degree, and that their chosen school should give them every support that is available to all of the students at that school, the arena of professional sports and the attraction of ludicrous amounts of dollars cannot realistically be denied. College and universities have become the stepping stones to professional sports careers. Recruiting is now starting right out of high school. Eighteen year old children are playing professional sports with men twice their age – and making millions of dollars. Priorities have become skewed.There is a simple solution. The WNBA initially required that all of its members have a college degree. Why can't the NBA, the NFL, NHL, baseball and all other professional sports require graduation from an accedited college or university? Because of the billions of dollars at stake! Obviously the sooner they can recruit a good player, the sooner that player will start generating revenue. Education be damned. When their usually short professional sports career is over, the athlete is left with nothing. So I suggest again that the professional leagues do not recruit anyone until they have earned their degree AND that the leagues are required to contribute to a general fund that supports the education of student athletes. Of course the distribution and administration of such a fund would be complex. But it's time for those organizations who have in effect been stealing the education from these men and women be held accountable, as well as the colleges and universities that have not made education a priority for their student athletes. Finally, when the NCAA penalizes a school for low graduation rates, such as UCONN, let the NBA bear some of that responsibility. If the NBA didn't draft all of those players with multimillion dollar contracts before they graduated, we would not be having this conversation. But what kind of a choice is it when you are 20 years old – a degree or $25 million? Something is seriously wrong with our priorities, but they can be addressed. In my opinion children who haven't even reached their physical and emotional maturity shouldn't be playing professional sports they should wait, let their bodies and minds mature, and get their education, while enjoying college sports while they can

    April 2, 2012 at 12:25 am |