Phi Beta Cons

Low Graduation Rates Among College Hoops Players

It always comes up during the college-basketball tournament season — the low graduation rates for players at most competitive schools. The LA Times has an opinion piece on this subject, noting that among the Final Four teams, North Carolina is tops with a graduation rate of 60 percent. At the other schools, it’s about half of that.

They say that this is a problem because, “in order to ‘go pro in something other than sports,’ that athlete needs a college degree.” My question is this: Why suppose that a degree is going to make any difference for these particular students? Were the lack of a degree a serious problem, more athletes would choose to take a few more classes when their playing eligibility is up. Colleges bend over backward to make it easy for athletes to graduate.
If a large number of them don’t go this route, that tells us something. I think it tells us that the degrees athletes tend to obtain aren’t particularly beneficial in the labor market.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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