College football’s bowl season seemed to go on and on (and on) this year from December 20 to January 7. There are now thirty-two bowl games including the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl and the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (I swear I didn’t make any of those up). This year I had the pleasure of studying the teams in the bowl games closer than most and I don’t mean the play calling of the X’s and O’s, but the academics of A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and F’s.
My graduate assistant (GA) position is with the DeVos program in the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport doing research on the academic standing of college athletics and the racial and gender hiring practices of professional leagues and the NCAA. There are six of us in the ’09 class out of twenty-six that work with the Institute, but (in case you were wondering) almost everyone in the program has a GA position somewhere on campus.
This year Marina Bustamante (DeVos ’08) and I co-authored Dr. Lapchick’s study, “Keeping Score When It Counts: Assessing the 2007-08 Bowl-bound College Football Teams. Academic Performance Improves but Race Still Matters.” The study was released December 3, 2007 which was the morning after the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl games were announced. The study concluded that while overall academic performance was improving in college football, there remains a large gap between the graduation rates of White and African-American football players with African-Americans trailing far behind. If it was based off academics alone, Navy and Boston College would play for the national title. I encourage you to read the study.
The Institute also annually releases a NCAA leadership study, which assesses diversity among Division 1-A campus and conference leaders. We also annually release racial and gender report cards for Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, among others. I’d also encourage you to check these out at the Institute’s website. The work of the Institute is a major part of the mission of the DeVos program and I’m humbled to play a small role in it.