Although the Gophers football team has displayed improvement under coach Jerry Kill in most academic measurements, there’s still work to be done, as attested to by an academic assessment of football bowl teams released Monday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.
The Gophers are one of 16 bowl teams (out of 70 total) that have at least a 30 percent difference in GSR (graduation success rate) between white and black players. Minnesota’s white football players had a GSR of 90 percent, compared to 54 percent for black players. The 36 percent difference is tied for fourth-highest, trailing Florida State (50 percent), Texas (46 percent) and Mississippi (43 percent), according to the report conducted by Richard Lapchick’s department at the University of Central Florida.
The study found numerous disparities between black and white athletes among the bowl teams. A total of 69 schools (99 percent) had GSRs of 66 or higher for white players, which was more than 2.6 times the number of schools with GSRs of 66 or higher for black athletes (26 schools, 37 percent). Minnesota graduated 54 percent of its black athletes; nine of the bowl schools graduated less than half of black athletes.
The average graduation success rate for black players at bowl-bound schools is 65 percent compared to 84 percent for whites.
Lapchick, principal author of the study, said the disparity is largely a reflection of society.
“The news is really about America’s problem of solving the disparities between African-Americans and whites in society,” Lapchick said. “Things like graduation rates keep getting better for both African-Americans and whites, but that gap can take the heart out of the good news about the improvement.”
Lapchick said a lack of quality education in primary and secondary school systems attended by black students is a major part of the problem.
“They get behind, and it makes it tough for them to catch up in college,” he said.
Rice and Boston College led the way nationally in terms of graduation rates, according to the study. Both schools graduated at least 94 percent of football players and at least 93 percent of black players.
“Rice and Boston College would have played for the national championship if there was a national championship game based on graduation success rates among bowl teams,” Lapchick said.
As for this year’s the two national championship contenders, Florida State graduated 58 percent of football players and 50 percent of black players. Auburn graduated 70 percent of football players and 53 percent of black players.
The GSR statistic, which includes transfers, included the six-year graduation statistics for freshmen entering in 2006-07.
The Star Tribune’s staff contributed to this story.