March Madness: Black NCAA Basketball Players Graduate 32 Percent Less Than Whites

The shameful racial graduation gap for NCAA players has grown wider for a third year in a row.

While everyone from your office mate to President Obama is busy filling out their March Madness tournament brackets, a new study (PDF) says we've all got reason to be a little less excited about NCAA basketball.

According to research released this week from the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, though the graduation rate for NCAA Division I basketball players is up overall, the gap between white players and their black counterparts has grown wider for a third year in a row. In 2011, white players graduated at a rate of 91 percent, while black players got a degree a dismal 59 percent of the time.

That's better than the 35-percent graduation rate for black male college students overall, of course, but some schools are much worse. Connecticut, for instance, only graduated a quarter of its black players this year. At Kentucky, just 31 percent of the black players graduated, compared with 100 percent of their white teammates.

Considering how valuable these athletes are to their schools and coaches—Connecticut's coach, Jim Calhoun, made $1.6 million in 2009—you'd think their schools and coaches might also value them and their minds, too. That appears to not be the case.