March 14, 2006

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LEWISBURG, Pa. - A new study that examines the graduation rates for the NCAA men's basketball tournament field places Bucknell alone at the top of the national field.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association statistics, compiled by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, every basketball player who entered Bucknell from 1995 to 1998 graduated within six years. Bucknell is the only school in the 65-team NCAA Tournament field with a perfect record.

"We mean business at Bucknell ­­- on the court, and more importantly, in the classroom," said Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell. "And, as our success last year and this year shows, impressive academic and athletic achievements are not mutually exclusive."

Bucknell plays the University of Arkansas Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Dallas.

The study, titled "Keeping Score Where It Counts: Graduation Rates for 2006 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Teams," said of the 65 teams in the national tournament that 41 teams, or 64 percent, graduated at least 50 percent of their basketball student-athletes based on graduation success rates.

Twenty-three teams, or 36 percent, graduated at least 70 percent of their basketball student-athletes, while 16 teams, or 25 percent, graduated less than 40 percent.

The study's authors, though, were "alarmed at the persistent gap between African-American and white basketball student-athletes."

Based on graduation success rate data, they said 66 percent of the men's tournament teams graduated 60 percent or more of their white basketball student-athletes, while 33 percent graduated 70 percent or more of their African-American basketball student-athletes - a gap of 33 percentage points.

Ryan Vandament, who co-authored the study, said the institute "publishes the graduation rates in order to give college basketball fans a realistic view on how well colleges and universities are doing off the court. Institutions of higher education promise all student-athletes a meaningful education. We try to see if they have met those promises."

See press release about the University of Central Florida study.

Read the online publication Inside Higher Education's analysis of the graduation rate data and a basketball bracket, they say, you won't see elsewhere.

Posted March 14, 2006


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