Catch the FeverMarch 20, 2008
No, not the flu or spring fever. I’m talking about March Madness! For those who don’t know or care about college sports, March Madness is the popular term for the NCAA Division I single-game elimination basketball tournament to determine a national champion — for both men and women. All week, fans (Go Jayhawks!) have pored over tournament brackets to predict which teams will advance to the championship game and to place wagers on the games in office and online pools. Sports writers and broadcasters have analyzed the chances for each team, looking at player stats and team records.
But with all of this hoopla and media coverage, some important 2008 tournament figures have been overshadowed. Of the 65 men’s and 64 women’s teams,
- 62 women’s teams (98 percent) graduated at least 50 percent of their athletes compared to 41 men’s teams (64 percent);
- 61 women’s teams graduated at least 60 percent of their athletes compared to 31 men’s teams; and
- 51 women’s teams graduated at least 70 percent of their athletes compared to 22 men’s teams.
These numbers come from the annual Keeping Score When It Counts study, by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida, of Graduation Success Rates (GSR) for NCAA Division I basketball student athletes at tournament-selected schools. GSR measures graduation rates for student athletes within six years of beginning college. The numbers reflect an overall improvement, but disparities between African American and white athletes persist.
As we celebrate Title IX at 35, these numbers are encouraging. The expansion of athletic opportunities for girls and women created by Title IX and supported by AAUW offer many students access to higher education. Starting this weekend, let’s remember to cheer the accomplishments of these student athletes both on the court and in the classroom. And be sure to catch License to Thrive, a documentary about the effect of Title IX legislation on women leaders in sports, business, science, education, and other arenas this Sunday on ESPN2.