We at Gonzaga have had the luxury of a tremendously high graduation rate by both our Mbb and our Wbb but it is no fluke. It takes effort, money and resources as well as expectation to achieve these lofty goals. Here is an interesting article on graduation rates published by The Undefeated comparing women to men graduation rates and the disparity in graduation rates between African Americans and Caucasian student athletes. While Gonzaga has an excellent record (at least over the last decade) several other schools have stepped up their games as well:

Women’s Basketball Programs Beat the Men’s by a Long Shot in Graduating Black Athletes
UConn, for example, graduates 100% of its basketball athletes
By Derrick Z. Jackson
April 2, 2020

Ellen Tripp, director of the University of Connecticut’s Student-Athlete Success Program, gets angry when she hears stale, patronizing reasons that the university and the vast majority of March Madness-caliber women’s Division I basketball programs excel in the classroom, while many men’s programs do not.

“You hear, ‘Well, men are more focused on going pro, so they’re not as focused in school,’ ” she said. “Well, look at the number of our players who go to the WNBA or play overseas. These women are the elite. They do have pro options and they still graduate. It’s incredibly sexist to say that they get degrees because they don’t have options.

“The fact is, whatever the reason, the women who play at UConn, whether or not they go pro, understand the value of an education and understand at some point, even if they go pro, they’ve made a commitment to finish what they started to get that degree. Women understand the value of education and don’t like to settle.”

The level to which UConn, the winningest program in women’s college basketball history, does not settle for mediocrity in the classroom is reflected in its sixth straight year of a 100% Graduation Success Rate (GSR) in the most recent NCAA graduation rates report. While March Madness may be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, we can still celebrate teams like the Huskies that, even without a dribble, still won a far more important championship for their student-athletes.

In my 23rd year of reviewing these graduation rates, 21 of the 35 women’s teams that were either ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 or received votes to be ranked, had GSRs for African American women of at least 90%. That included four of the five top-ranked programs: South Carolina, Baylor, Maryland and Connecticut. Women’s teams with 100% rates for all players were South Carolina, Maryland, UConn, Stanford, UCLA, Gonzaga, Oregon State, DePaul, Kentucky, South Dakota, Florida State, Arizona State, Princeton, Ohio State, Marquette and Rutgers. For 10th-ranked UCLA, it was the seventh straight year of perfection. For seventh-ranked Stanford, it was the fifth straight.

As is usually the case, the women’s programs are a guidepost to what the men can do, if athletic departments fully applied themselves. Only 17 out of the 47 teams that made the men’s AP Top 25, or received votes to be ranked, had graduation rates of at least 90% for black men. While 60% of women’s programs achieve that level of excellence, only 36% of men’s programs did.


Kansas and Gonzaga Top Off the Court, Too

Men’s programs were also only half as likely to have 100% GSRs for all players. But leading the way in that department were the top-two teams in the nation, Kansas and Gonzaga. It was Kansas’ eighth straight year of posting 100% and Gonzaga’s third straight. Other “100 percenters” were Michigan State, Duke, Villanova, Seton Hall, Virginia, West Virginia, Butler, Michigan, Richmond, Northern Iowa, Vermont and Belmont.

According to Tripp and Shannon Strahl, the senior associate director of athletics/compliance and student services in Gonzaga’s athletic department, the road to academic success is paved for declared recruits before the freshman semester begins. For example, Gonzaga works on a degree plan while recruits are finishing their senior year of high school. UConn offers recruits the chance to start school with two classes in the summer before the rest of the school convenes in the fall.

“It’s so when school starts, they have a sense of, ‘I got this,’ ” Tripp said.

“It’s about establishing expectations, habits and routines,” Strahl said. “It is not an enabling thing where we do things for them. It’s an empowering thing so they own the expectations.”

Both schools stress that during the sports season they pour resources into making sure athletes can get plenty of individual attention to stay on track during the many distractions and travel. At Gonzaga, the expectations for academics are so high that it claims the lofty distinction of having three of the only six Division I men’s basketball players in the last 25 years who have been both first-team All-Americans and first-team Academic All-Americans: Dan Dickau, Kelly Olynyk and Nigel Williams-Goss.

Just as impressive, Gonzaga worked its way out of the academic basement. A little over a decade ago, the team had GSRs as low as zero for black players and 33% for white players. “We definitely weren’t getting it done,” said athletic director Mike Roth. “We had to change our culture and our attitude. Let’s face it: Most coaches aren’t looking at transcripts before they look at jump shots. We added staff in academics and the coaches have to buy in.

“Today, I have trustees asking about our academics, ‘How did you guys do this?’ ”


The women, conversely, had no teams under 50% for black players, and only four programs with racial disparities of at least 25 points (Oregon, Indiana, Iowa and Arkansas).

So, while Wisconsin is this year’s outlier, there are still too many men’s programs lying down on the job. The now-infamous Badger homecoming video said the school is where “We can all harmonize as one.” It will be a great day when athletes all graduate as one.
Find the Entire Article Here: https://theundefeated.com/features/w...lack-athletes/

We Zag fans have a lot to be proud of and the nation is beginning to understand what it means to be a Zag.

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