African American Student-Athletes Experience Record-Setting Graduation Rates

A recent report issued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) revealed that a record number of African American athletes are graduating from college, which is having a positive effect on the overall graduation rate for all student-athletes.

According to the report, 77 percent of black athletes earned a postsecondary degree between 2014 and 2017; this represents a 21 percent rise in college completion for this group since 2002. This increase has led to a significant improvement in the overall graduation rate for all student-athletes: From 2014 to 2017, 87 percent of all college athletes graduated — an all-time high for these students.

The NCAA also noted a positive change in the overall graduation rate for men’s basketball, which rose two points from 2016 to 82 percent. Additionally, women’s basketball reached an all-time high of 92 percent this year, and graduation rates for the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision peaked at 78 percent.

John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University and chair of the NCAA Division I Committee on Academics, told USA Today that he believes “[colleges and universities] have a responsibility to prepare [their] students to excel both on and off the field of play,” adding that “this year’s graduation success rate is … the highest in history.”

“Student-athletes are reaching their academic goals and earning degrees at record rates,” NCAA President Mark Emmert told USA Today. “The dramatic improvement in the graduation rate for African American student-athletes in all sports is a significant achievement, and our student-athletes and member schools should be proud of the work they are doing.”

Since the NCAA began collecting these data in 1995, the number of college athletes who have completed degrees has increased by 13 percent, resulting in more than 22,000 additional former student-athletes who now have diplomas. The NCAA’s statistics differ from federal data, as the government does not account for transfer students who graduated from other institutions.