The Corner

Politics & Policy

Playing the Race Card in Higher Education

For the Left, “institutional racism” is the explanation for just about  every inequality they find — and looking for them is an obsession.

Consider the fact that black football and basketball players in big sports schools have a substantially lower graduation rate than do other student groups. Is that because they aren’t well prepared for anything resembling college level work and have scant interest in reading, thinking, and expressing their thoughts on course material? No — it’s because of racism on campus!

Shannon Watkins writes about this subject for the Martin Center today. Her article was prompted by a recent report authored by a professor who always blames racism, Shaun Harper. Watkins writes, “One of Harper’s main takeaways from his research is reflected in his statement: ‘[P]erhaps nowhere in higher education is the disenfranchisement of black male students more insidious than in college athletics.’”

Harper’s conclusions are driven by his embrace of Critical Race Theory, which purports to explain all group disparities as caused by institutional racism. Never mind that universities are desperate to have these “student-athletes” graduate and bend over backwards to help them — pervasive campus racism is the problem.

Watkins points to evidence suggesting a different explanation — that many of the star players are barely college material at all, and are clearly not competitive at flagship universities such as UNC-Chapel Hill. She writes that the Tar Heels’  “football team’s SAT scores is further indicative of low admission standards for student-athletes. For the class that entered in the 2015-2016 academic year, the average SAT score for the football team was 993.  Although not terrible, that score is far below Chapel Hill’s average SAT score of 1300.”

The diversity industry that has spread across most of our higher education system depends on people not noticing that star players are usually academically mismatched at schools like UNC. Relying on “racism” to explain low graduation rates helps to keep it growing.

Watkins hits the bullseye with her conclusion: “Contrary to Harper and some UNC officials’ conclusions, the problem is not that universities are intimidating or preventing black athletes from succeeding in college—it is that university officials compromise academic integrity for the sake of gaining star players.”

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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