As the NCAA men's basketball tournament gets underway, many Americans are busy tracking their brackets and predicting which team will win it all. But, this year, there are new questions about another measure of success: college graduation rates. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, himself a onetime college player, wants to ban teams from postseason play unless at least 40 percent of their players finish degrees.
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida has determined that under Duncan's standard, at least a dozen schools in the tournament would be ineligible to compete. However, while Duncan's proposal has garnered national attention, neither he nor the federal government has the power to mandate graduation rates for postseason eligibility. That decision is up to the NCAA, which is run by the schools themselves.
"If a university can't have two out of five of their student athletes graduate, I don't know why they're rewarded with postseason play." - Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
"I don't want to deny the opportunity to students that aren't prepared. I'm going to fight for the student athletes that come in and aren't as prepared." - Bruce Pearl, University of Tennessee men's basketball coach
1. What does it mean to be "eligible" to do something?
2. Who is the U.S. Secretary of Education, and what does his job involve?
3. What is a graduation rate, and why would that rate be important to the Secretary of Education?
4. What is the NCAA?
1. Do you think the NCAA should make teams ineligible to play postseason basketball if their graduation rate doesn't meet Duncan's standard? Why / why not?
2. If an athlete goes to college on a sports scholarship, do you think he or she should concentrate more on school, or more on athletics? Why?
3. Do you think NCAA schools will eventually decide to require a certain graduation rate for postseason sports eligibility? Why / why not?