The 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament and Richard Lapchick: That pesky white-Black graduation gap strikes again

I recently watched the film Hoosiers again. You know, the high school basketball film starring Gene Hackman that Spike Lee said made him “uncomfortable” when he watched it. One day that movie will be banned, because it fails to show sufficient empathy for the Black plight.

Regardless, March Madness is upon us. Even President Obama took time out of his busy schedule avoiding the problems of the world and actually leading to fill out a bracket.

Richard Lapchick is on the far right.

And once again Richard Lapchick published startling statistics on the white-Black graduation gap present at the colleges and universities that will compete in the NCAA Tournament for the basketball championship. You remember Lapchick right? Constantly bemoaning the porous graduation rates for Black people and the lack of Black participation in managerial and front office as well as coaching and athletic director positions, he publishes Racial and Gender Score Cards of professional sports with a highly subjective criteria: sports with too many white participants get a “D” or an “F” while those with high levels of minority participation get an “A”. 

Quoted as an authority on sports and race, Lapchick has built a career documenting Black ineptitude when it comes to academics and he has consistently put the blame for these failures on Predominately White Colleges that have failed to prepare Black students for the rigors of collegiate life (strange that he never mentions Asians who perform at levels that exceed white people).

The white-Black graduation gap grows in both college football and college basketball and we can thank Lapchick for documenting this fact for us all. In 2006 Lapchick wrote this for in an attempt to explain what is obvious to everyone save Disingenuous White Liberals (DWLs) who will never admit the obvious for their entire reason for being would cease to exist with such an admission of honesty:

It is my hope that, at some point, those schools also will be held accountable specifically for the academic success of their black student-athletes. If they graduate 80 percent of their white basketball players but only 45 percent of black basketball players, the NCAA should take away scholarships. Accountability is critical.
Should some of the blame for the disparity between graduation rates be directed at coaches who recruit students-athletes solely to win games? I have no doubt that some coaches work closely with the school’s admissions office to admit student-athletes who have little or no chance at academic success.

In some cases, coaches might believe a player will leave after one or two years to turn pro anyway, so the coach will not have to be accountable. This is thinking without an ethical foundation. If a student is brought to a school, he or she has to be ready and must have the appropriate support to succeed. Are admissions officers at fault when they accept students who cannot succeed academically on their campuses? Some are fans of the game.

Some, no doubt, feel the pressure from an unethical coach. Either way, the student-athlete loses. And what about the fans and alumni who care more about winning than about the academic performance of the student-athletes on their favorite teams? They reinforce a coach who feels the heat to win. They make it easier for an admissions officer to admit a gifted athlete who can’t compete in the classroom. 

They distort the value system for the student-athletes who ultimately win or lose the games. And how much blame should be placed on the student-athletes themselves? They are partners in the contract with their institutions. Surely, they bear some responsibility for their own behavior academically. But who is providing them with the road map to what is right? On many campuses, the climate sometimes isn’t welcoming to students of color who might be underrepresented in the student body, among faculty and administration, and in the athletic department. 

Maybe there is a Martin Luther King Boulevard or a Malcolm X Center somewhere on or near campus, but it’s a safe bet most of the buildings and streets are named after white people. Should the general public be held responsible? At least, the part of the general public that assumes black student-athletes simply aren’t as capable in the classroom as white student-athletes? Every time I publish graduation rates, I routinely get e-mails, letters and phone calls from fans who represent that sort of thinking — the sort of thinking I can only describe as racist.

The New York Times admitted that Black male students proficiency is incredibly low. Every test that measures intelligence shows that Blacks score on the bottom end of the academic totem pole. Yet every year, without fail, Lapchick publishes another study documenting Black athletes inability to graduate from colleges and universities that they have no business attending in the first place.

Their athletic ability represents their academic transcript. What’s truly sad is that armies of tutors and multi-millon dollar athletic centers litter the campuses of every college in America and the graduation rates of Black athletes participating in sports still lag behind those of their white peers.

Attempts to legitimatize college athletics have always come under attack as racist, with any creation of academic standards an obvious attempt at barring Black athletes who post scores far below those of their fellow white athletes. Proposition 48 and 42 were both declared racist — and eventually outlawed — for imposing such stiff academic standards that would require athletes to score more than a 700 on their SAT and have a 2.0 grade point average in high school .

 As we have seen with Duke basketball and with white basketball players graduation rates, the idea of the dumb-jock seems to resonate with only one segment of the athletic community. It is this segment of the community that many people believe to produce superior athletes that must be recruited without hesitation to ensure basketball success. Such is the case of Georgetown:

But the fear, back then, had as much to do with race as hoops. Georgetown basketball under John Thompson was always intertwined with racial politics. That was inevitable when an elite Eastern university, then as now overwhelmingly white, started fielding teams made up almost exclusively of black players. When Thompson came to Georgetown in 1972, he wasn’t plucked from some other sideline legend’s “coaching tree.” Rather, he had been plying his trade at a tiny Catholic high school in northeast Washington, D.C., at a time when the only notable black coaches were Lenny Wilkens and Bill Russell—both player/coaches for NBA teams.

Mediocre Georgetown teams composed of white parochial-school graduates soon became a relic. Thompson recruited inner-city black players, often well after they’d graduated high school. (He had to wait for one of his first recruits, Mike Riley, to finish a hitch in the Navy.) The Hoyas’ rise came shortly after the founding of the Big East Conference in 1979. Before the Big East, Georgetown was part of the sprawling Eastern College Athletic Conference, which represented more than 200 schools. As part of the Big East, Georgetown played regularly against the finest black players from New York and Philadelphia, helping to market the Hoyas to both recruits and East Coast hoops fans. By the late ’70s, the Hoyas were starting an all-black five. Soon, African-American basketball players—Patrick Ewing, Sleepy Floyd, Fred Brown, Reggie Williams—became the university’s most visible symbol. Perhaps most visible was Michael Graham, a substitute on the 1984 team, who was the spitting image of every Angry Black Man stereotype: He was the bald-headed, bruising spark plug on a championship squad before academic troubles forced him to transfer away.

Around the time Georgetown won the 1984 national championship, the university trademarked the Hoyas name and snarling-bulldog logo. This was the first college sports team to become a brand—and it was a tremendously lucrative one. By the early ’90s, Georgetown apparel outsold even schools with powerhouse football programs. Georgetown Starter jackets sold well across the country, but the team’s image was especially resonant in black America. Not only was this an all-black team with a black coach, the Hoyas also played in a majority-black city run by a black mayor. Thompson took a well-publicized stand against Proposition 42, an NCAA rule change that he believed would threaten black athletes by imposing higher academic standards. Eventually the racial cues became more overt, most famously in the kente-cloth-trimmed uniforms of the Iverson era.

 People can hate Duke for playing white players and winning, while people can sing the praises of the Fab Five at Michigan for instilling the idea that thuggery on the court would equal long-term financial returns.

Watching the film Hoosiers is interesting: You get the opportunity to watch the America that once existed, when people were unabashedly proud of their nation. We no longer live in a such a nation, because the rest of the world decided that they wanted to move to that white nation that only existed because whites created it. The white Americans left, who still remain a hated majority, have been taught that every minority failure is somehow on their hands and that the nation that once existed was unequivocally racist.

So what if it was? Things worked. Public transportation was excellent and public schools produced students prepared to lead the world in innovation. Now public transportation is the exclusive mode of transportation for the population that most people have no desire to be around. Public schools still work, but they fail the one segment of the population that must succeed at any cost.

Black students. The failure can never be blamed on them.

Richard Lapchick worked tirelessly to bring down Apartheid in South Africa. As a true DWL, Lapchick undoubtedly sleeps well every night knowing that he liberated that nation from white rule while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge that in liberating South Africa he helped it become the lawless rape and murder capital of the world.

Looking at the 2011 NCAA Tournament teams graduation rates is interesting. Eleven of the schools failed to have a single white player on the roster, which is a statistic Lapchick is unconcerned with. All he is concerned with is the meager Black graduation rate:

Lapchick noted, “The report presents good news about the overall graduation rates, which continued to rise for both white and African-American basketball student-athletes. Academic Progress Rates also rose. However, the staggering gap between the graduation rates of African-American and white student-athletes grew by four percentage points to an even more unacceptable 32 percent. This was the third successive year that the gap grew from 22 percent in 2009 to 28 percent in 2010 to the current 32 percent.

“There was a two percentage point increase for all male basketball student-athletes to 66 percent, while 91 percent of white and 59 percent of African-American men’s Division I basketball student-athletes graduate. That was a seven percentage point increase for white male basketball student-athletes and a three percentage point increase for African-American male basketball student-athletes compared to last year’s study.”

Lapchick went on to say, “For years we have noted the deeply troubling disparity between the GSR of African-American and white men’s basketball student-athletes. While the actual graduation rates of African-American basketball student-athletes continue to increase, the gap increased to 32 percentage points! An ESPN poll conducted for Martin Luther King Day this year indicated that the greatest concern of both whites and African-Americans in the general public was this disparity. Hopefully that concern will generate new resources to address this problem.”

Lapchick continued, “Race remains a continuing academic issue. By itself, the increased 32 percentage point gap between graduation rates for white and African-American student-athletes demonstrates that.

“However, it is equally important to note that African-American male basketball players graduate at a higher rate than African-American males who are not student-athletes. The graduation rate for African-American male students as a whole is only 38 percent, a full 21percentage points lower than for African-American male basketball student-athletes. Presently, too many of our predominantly white campuses are not fully welcoming places for students of color, whether or not they are athletes. There are lessons that our campuses could learn from athletics. We have to find new ways to narrow this gap and that includes looking at the urban high schools which many of our African-American student-athletes graduate from…answers there must come from schools systems themselves, perhaps with help from the Department of Education.”

Mr. Lapchick is prepared to participate in Waiting for Superman, a strategy destined for failure. He did note that Black male athletes have a higher graduation rate then the Black male student general population. What he failed to note was that these same players have an army of tutors and mult-million dollar athletic centers at their disposal, resources which normal students – Black or white – don’t have.

Watching Hoosiers will one day be akin to watching Triumph of the Will or Birth of a Nation. This is why Spike Lee said he felt “disturbed” watching the movie, where white athletes at a white school compete for the honor and glory of their small Indiana town.

This is why Lapchick is constantly invokes such names Martin Luther King Jr. and denounces Predominately White Colleges for failing to make campuses conducive to people of color (does he do the same for white students at HBCUs or include Asians in “people of color” diatribes?). Lapchick is one of the finest representations of a DWL, a person who is constantly bemoaning the sad state of Black America without acknowledging that most of the problems are largely self-inflicted.

White-Black graduation rate differences? Athletes of both races can be tutored to pass courses and “earn” a degree in sociology, all the while maintaining their eligibility so they can play in March Madness. This is the “nurture” part.

Ever wonder why so many schools with 90 percent + white student enrollments trot out teams of nearly all-Black players? Some would say that the “nature” part, a reason many would give for the inability of Black athletes to graduate.

Sports represent the primary reason Black Run America (BRA) continues to exist. The day will come when every excuse for continued Black failures in education finally runs out, when the bar for passing tests has been lowered too low.

On that day, Richard Lapchick will still find a way to try and explain the white-Black gap in educational achievement in terms that make sense to him. The data he continues to compile seems to be pointing at only one logical conclusion. 



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