Catch the Fever

March 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.

Avatar By:   |   March 20, 2008


  1. Avatar Peggy Woods-Clark says:

    Sandy, I was thrilled to see that Tennessee is not alone in that achievement. Eleven other schools had perfect graduation rates for their women’s basketball programs as well: Bucknell, Marist, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Robert Morris, San Diego, Syracuse, Texas and Vanderbilt.

  2. Avatar Sandy Kirkpatrick says:

    As a die-hard fan of women’s basketball, I’m so glad you shared this. One of my favorite teams is Tennessee, and not just because they are amazing athletes who play great team ball. Their coach, Pat Summit, has won more games than ANY other coach (men’s or women’s) and, even more significantly, has a 100% graduation rate. She proves that being a top athlete and being a successful student are not mutually exclusive, and she teaches her players how to succeed in LIFE. It’s interesting to see that men’s coaches in some programs have started to take notice, and are starting to learn from the women’s programs how to improve their players’ graduation rates.

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