Basketball players aren't making grade


CHICAGO -- A survey reveals basketball players need to improve off the court.

Graduation rates on a national level showed the same trends that exist in the Big Ten: Basketball players lag far behind in their rates compared to other athletes and the rest of the student body.

Nationally, only 39 percent of the basketball players from the 1984-85 freshmen class received degrees over a five-year period. Football checked in at 47 percent, according to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Overall, though, athletes actually fared better than the student body, with all students graduating in five years at a 47.9 percent clip and athletes coming in at 56.1 percent.

The Chronicle received responses from 262 of the 295 schools in Division I. The survey charted the recruits from the 1984-85 class to see how many received degrees over a five-year period.

Of the leagues that compete in big-time football and basketball, the Atlantic Coast Conference ranked first with 66.2 percent of its athletes receiving degrees.

However, the ACC, which has two teams in this weekend's Final Four, graduated only 32 percent of its basketball players.

The Big Ten was second to the ACC, with 58 percent of its athletes graduating, compared to 59.1 percent for the student ,, body. But in basketball, the rate drops to 43.9 percent.

The Big East, which hasn't competed in football but will in the future, had the best basketball numbers, graduating 56 percent of its players. However, the survey was able to get figures only from seven of nine teams. Providence and Pittsburgh declined to participate.

Others schools that failed to respond included De Paul, Miami, Penn State and Brigham Young. De Paul has cited privacy issues as its reason for not disclosing its figures.

The Southeastern Conference had the worst overall numbers. The SEC graduated 36.4 percent of its athletes -- 32.2 percent in football and 14 percent in basketball. The Big West saw only 23.8 of its football players and 18.9 percent of its basketball players receive degrees.

Of the Final Four teams, Duke, at 95.9 percent, had the best overall graduation rate. UNLV is the worst at 21.1 percent; its lone basketball recruit for '84-85 failed to graduate.

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