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A closer look at USC’s student-athlete graduation rates

first_imgThe perpetual stereotype of the dumb jock is far from dead in today’s society, and at college campuses, idolized student-athletes are walking to the same classes that every other student is — or are they?At USC, student-athletes account for roughly 1.2 percent of the total student population. The USC Athletics website lists 516 student-athletes accounting for the 43,000 total students at the University.With the added burden of competing at a Division I school on teams that are regularly competing for national championships, it would be easy for student-athletes to allow academics to fall by the wayside.Not the case at USCThe NCAA collects and reports data from colleges and universities regarding both their student graduation rates and student-athlete graduation rates. The rate is determined by calculating the proportion of first-year, full-time student-athletes who enter a school with institutional aid and graduate in six years. This is called the student-athlete graduation success rate.USC’s overall student-athlete GSR is 81. In comparison with the regular student body though, the numbers are a bit more grim. Ninety-one percent of the 2008-2009 freshmen class went on to graduate in four years. Only 70 percent of student-athletes from the same class graduated at the same time.This is partly due to the time commitments that athletes are dedicating themselves to on a daily basis that the regular student does not have. According to a study by the Pac-12 in April 2015, student-athletes self-reported spending 50 hours a week on athletics during the season. This is significantly more time than the 20 hours a week permitted by the NCAA.At the College Sport Research Institution at the University of South Carolina, Mark Nagel is the associate director of the program that recently researched graduation gaps of Division I basketball players.“The bottom line is, particularly in revenue sports, it’s putting a round peg in a square hole,” Nagel said. “Universities are set up with education as their goal. Football and basketball programs are not set up with education as their goal. As the money has become unbelievably larger, it has dominated what is important.”The GSR rate for USC’s men’s basketball teams is 82, tied for the fifth highest in the conference. The football team, however, which has the lowest GSR on campus at 58, is second to last in the Pac-12.Magdi El-Shahawy is USC’s associate athletic director in charge of Student-Athlete Academic Services. He declined to comment for this story. However, he did speak on the matter in an article on the USC Ripsit blog from November.“Our current football GSR is a victim of our on-field success back then,” El-Shahawy said. “Of the 71 players in the 2005 to 2008 cohort, 41 of them graduated in the six-year GSR window. Of those who didn’t, 22 competed in the NFL. Ten left USC within one semester of graduating and four came back to USC after the six-year window to get their degrees. Next year, when the 2005 figure will no longer be part of the calculation, our football GSR will rise significantly.”The Trojans’ second lowest sport in terms of GSR is track and field (73) something Nagel said isn’t that surprising despite the fact that it isn’t a revenue sport.“Track and field is one of the few non-revenue sports that attracts a disproportionate number of African American and minority athletes,” Nagel said. “African American and minority athletes are coming from schools that are not as strong. It looks a lot like a revenue sport having underprepared students coming into the system.”Of the African American track and field athletes who were freshmen in 2008-2009, only 63 percent graduated in four years and 75 percent in the GSR period of six years.Seven sports have a GSR of more than 90 percent including two that boast a 100 percent rate — women’s basketball and women’s golf. The other sports are women’s water polo (96), women’s soccer (95), women’s rowing (94), women’s volleyball (91) and baseball (91). Baseball is the only men’s sport above the 90 percent mark.What are students studying?On the USC Athletics website, an athlete’s major is often one of the listed facts in the personal section.Of the 516 student-athletes on the website, 89 did not have a major listed. An additional 99 student-athletes have their major listed as undecided or undeclared, leaving 328 listed majors.Thirty-seven percent of student-athletes with a listed major fall into two majors: communication (67 students) and business administration (53 students). Both majors require 48 units of coursework. The drop-off between business and the next most common major is significant — there are 22 student-athletes that are human biology majors.Above the restThe USC Ripsit blog, the athletic department’s blog, lists the average GPA of a student-athlete at 2.94 during the fall 2015 semester. According to the Panhellenic Council website, the average GPA for the USC student body is 3.21.“What is particularly impressive is that they are able to do well academically at a university where the academic profile of the student body continues to rise,” El-Shahawy said in the post. “That means our student-athletes are performing better and doing so against better competition.”USC’s blog post went on to note that the highest team GPA was the women’s soccer team with a cumulative GPA of 3.30. However, the women’s lacrosse team saw the most athletes make the Dean’s List with 15 members.“The fact that in most cases the female athletes are much closer to the performance of the female student body,” Nagel said. “If you are a female athlete, there isn’t as much of a pot of gold waiting for you. There is greater motivation for women athletes to keep education as a priority.”The pot of gold waits for NFL hopefuls, however. The football team recorded its highest in-season GPA ever of 2.66, according to the blog. Thirty-six members of the team recorded a 3.0 GPA and the blog post said the team had its “fewest-ever sub-2.0 performers.” A 2.0 is the lowest GPA a student can have and graduate.“If you ask any coach, they need to win, they need their athletes to perform,” Nagel said. “No one ever gets fired for bad graduation rates, they get fired for not winning. Losing equates to a lot less money.”last_img read more

Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament hopes end with 90-66 loss to Louisville

first_img Published on February 19, 2020 at 9:15 pm Contact Nick: nialvare@syr.edu | @nick_a_alvarez LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In their lockers, Syracuse players talked in a low murmur. Some pulled their hoods over their heads. For months they had played like a team trying to put it all together. Then they tried again for 40 more minutes. But in that second half, the SU press failed, the bench emptied and the score ballooned. Louisville forced the Orange to reconcile their long-term hopes with a daunting reality. “I wish we were better,” Orange head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I wish we were doing something wrong that we can correct. But we’re just not quite good enough.” Clinging to a postseason dream, Syracuse (14-12, 7-8 Atlantic Coast) was steamrolled by No. 11 Louisville (22-5, 13-3), 90-66, on Wednesday night. Keeping in line with seasons norms, SU made it competitive in the first half. They cut into multiple double-digit leads and strung together enough defensive stops to make nervous the Cardinals fans encircling the court. But offensive turnovers and leaky high-post defense quashed another SU upset bid. Louisville totaled more points in the paint (30 to 24), rebounds (45 to 36) and assists (23 to 11) than the Orange. The Cardinals benefited from tactical (inserting 3-point shooter Ryan McMahon into the starting lineup) and schematic changes (continuously running a high-low game in the paint). The Cardinals thrilled from 3 and rode a tension-less final 20 minutes to end its own two-game slide. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The disappointment was our defensive breakdown in the second half.” Boeheim said. “We just didn’t have it tonight. “Cardinals’ shooters quickly found the 3-point stroke they’d lost in past games. After going a combined 9-for-51 in two losses, they converted 10 against the Orange. McMahon hit four 3s in the first half, each pushing Louisville further ahead. They mainly fed Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton in the 2-3 zone’s soft spot. They were met with little resistance, whipping the ball across the arc or baseline for a dump-off. Sutton, who finished with three 3s, had converted less than one deep ball per contest. After Sutton rose and cashed Louisville’s first of the game, Buddy Boeheim was shocked, the latter said. The Orange thought he was only a high-post threat. It created more offense. After repeated possessions looking for a 3, the Cardinals went over the zone to Malik Williams. When SU defenders fanned out to shooters and denied backdoor cuts, Nwora rose for mid-range jumpers. Nwora scored a team-high 17 points after he managed seven total points over the last two games.Meanwhile, Syracuse developed a turnover problem against one of the worst turnover-producing teams in the country. Joseph Girard III threw two passes away early, and rotational guard Howard Washington checked in much earlier than usual. Hughes pressed, too, as he twice overshot Marek Dolezaj for what would’ve been layups. Buddy said SU took too many quick shots against Louisville’s press. “Especially when they were pressuring,” Boeheim said, “We couldn’t get by and make the play.” Courtesy of Dennis Nett | Syracuse.comFollowing the second turnover, Hughes bent at the waist and slouched before getting back on defense.SU converted five 3s in the first half but just two in the second. Cardinals defenders started doubling Buddy when he received the ball, he said, and triggered dump-off passes. Hughes and Girard couldn’t find the mark either (3-for-12 from 3). “I feel like we should be more ahead,” one Louisville fan in a black sweater told another when the halftime buzzer sounded, the Cardinals ahead by seven. They’d be appeased.Louisville’s offensive game plan didn’t appear to change. It just grew more potent. Syracuse’s offensive spurts paled whenever the defense couldn’t get the ensuing stop. The Cardinals kept it simple: pass to an open white jersey in the paint or around the arc. They went on a 14-2 run over a 2:18 stretch in the second half with dunks, 3-pointers and free throws. They led by 17. Then 19. Louisville ran the same high-low screen game in the paint, and SU didn’t have an answer. Sidibe and Dolezaj fouled out midway through the second half. Freshman Jesse Edwards didn’t fare much better. The 3s and dunks poured in and red-clad fans quickly trekked to the exits. As one walked out they said to no one particular, “We could get 1,000 (points) under the basket.” “It was a couple things (that went wrong),” Hughes said. “… In the second half we let them get dunk after dunk after dunk. We got to hold that down there. We have to stick to our principles.” SU now has a 1-4 record against ranked opponents with none others scheduled. It can finish the regular season with, at most, 19 wins — a number historically unsatisfactory for a berth. And now it’s facing its second three-game losing streak of the campaign. With the loss, the Orange’s season-long quest to the NCAA Tournament likely concluded Wednesday night. Not with a bang, but with a whimper on national television. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more