Education Secretary Duncan Calls Foul on NCAA


While driving into work, I listened to ESPN’s "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show relay that U.S. Education Secretary (and former Harvard basketball star) Arne Duncan has proposed NCAA teams who don’t graduate 40% of their players should not be allowed to compete in the postseason. A New York Times blog explains:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan took another swing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association and top college basketball programs Wednesday, reiterating a call he made in January to ban from postseason play teams that fail to graduate at least 40 percent of their players.

If Duncan’s proposal were to be carried out, 12 teams in the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament would be barred from competing, including Kentucky, a No. 1 seed, which has a graduation rate of 31 percent, according to a study released earlier this week by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. Six institutions (Brigham Young, Marquette, Notre Dame, Utah State, Wake Forest and Wofford) achieved a 100 percent graduation rate.

“If a university can’t have two out of five of their student-athletes graduate, I don’t know why they’re rewarded with postseason play,” Duncan said in a telephone conference call. His remarks were nearly identical to ones he made in a speech in January at the N.C.A.A. convention in Atlanta, where he told a crowd of athletic directors and university presidents that leaders in college sports aren’t doing enough to graduate basketball players.

ESPN’s analysts agreed the concept was well-meaning, although the logistics of such legislation would end up becoming convoluted because so many factors play into graduation rates (e.g. transfers, players who go to the NBA early, etc.). Jay Bilas also offered that coaches should not be punished for kicking a student off the team who can’t handle the academic load, since most would agree that’s the correct thing to do. He also opined that these are more than just basketball teams, they are institutions of higher learning, and they are equipped to handle these matters themselves.

What do you think? Fair or foul?

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