Bowl teams' graduation gap widens, study finds

ORLANDO, Fla. --- The disparity between graduation rates for white and black players at schools headed to bowl games grew again this year even as overall academic progress increased for both, a study released Monday found.

The annual report by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found the graduation success rate is increasing at a higher rate for white players than for blacks.

Richard Lapchick, the primary author of the study, said it's a "disturbing" gap that has continued to widen.

"It's like in the economy if income for Latinos and African-American grows at 2 percent but increases 3 percent for whites," he said. "Yes, it's getting better. But it's still not great for everybody."

The graduation success rate for black players went from 58 percent to 60 percent this year among the 70 bowl teams. But for white players, the rate increased from 77 percent to 80 percent.

The NCAA was encouraged that all graduation success rates increased and hoped that continued improvement for both groups in the future would close the gap.

"With such a large number of students, any increase is important, so this improvement is noteworthy. That improvement extends to African-American football student-athletes as well," NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in a statement.

Information was collected by the NCAA from member institutions for the study.

Researchers reviewed the six-year graduation rates of each school's freshman class that enrolled in 2003-04, then calculated a four-class average.

Five schools had graduation success rates for black players that exceeded their rates for white players.

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