Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Grats to the Gators/The Academic National Champion

First off, many congratulations to the Florida Gators on winning the National Championship in DI Men’s Basketball. I was pulling for Florida, not out of any loyalty or connection, but because of the teams that advanced to the Final 4, Florida is tops in its team graduation rate, at 67%. Ohio State is appalling at 10%, and UCLA at 38% and Georgetown at 47% have nothing to brag about either. So lets execute a thought experiment here. If the games in the tournament had been settled by the graduation rates of each of the teams, how would the tournament have proceeded, and what would the post-game comments have looked like?

Play in Game - Tuesday, March 13

Niagara 71 Florida A&M 0
Florida A&M coach Mike Gillespie: “We were quite lucky to make the tournament, but extraordinarily unlucky to draw a private university like Niagara in the play-in-game. I see them reaching the tournament’s second weekend.”

1st Round
Thursday, March 15

Maryland 13 Davidson 75
Maryland coach Gary Williams ranted after the game: “*GRUMBLE* Mid-Majors *MOAN* Do Not Belong *WHINE* This Is Completely Unfair!”

Butler 82 Old Dominion 63; Duke 50 VCU 31; Pittsburgh 38 Wright State 33; Boston College 50; Texas Tech 38; Georgetown 47 Belmont 73; BYU 33 Xavier 67; Vanderbilt 67 George Washington 58; UCLA 38 Weber State 43

Marquette 73 Michigan State 75
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: “It is unfortunate that two teams as fine as these had to face each other in the first round of the tournament, as this was a Sweet 16 or Elite 8 quality matchup.”

North Carolina 64 Eastern Kentucky 0
UNC coach Roy Williams: “I am glad we had an easy draw in the first round, as those scholars over at Michigan State are TOUGH.”

Louisville 22 Stanford 69
Stanford coach Trent Johnson: “Thank god this game was not decided by our ability to play basketball.”

Texas A&M 15 Pennsylvania 93
Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie: “WOW. What stunning academic ability. If there was a third half we would have lost by triple-figures.

Ohio State 10 Central Connecticut State 62
CCS coach Howie Dickenman: “This win clearly establishes us as the premier basketball school in the great state of Connecticut.”

Washington State 33 Oral Roberts 23
Washington State coach Tony Bennett: “They do not make Christian Universities like they used to.”

Indiana 67 Gonzaga 22
Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson: “They do not make Christian Universities like they used to.”

Friday, March 16

Virginia 62 Albany 54; Tennessee 8 Long Beach State 29; Virginia Tech 17 Illinois 64; UNLV 10 Georgia Tech 23; Wisconsin 60 Texas A&M-CC 25; Arizona 36 Purdue 50; Florida 67 Jackson State 57; Notre Dame 53 Winthrop 57; Texas 50 New Mexico State 44

Southern Illinois 67 Holy Cross 86
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard: “Although they were outbrained today, Southern Illinois is clearly no ordinary directional state University. It showed today, and they are to be commended.”

Kansas 40 Niagara 71
Kansas coach Bill Self: “Not again. Well, we might have had a shot if we were playing Florida A&M.”

Kentucky 23 Villanova 64
Kentucky coach Tubby Smith: “We did not have a chance against a Christian University made like they used to.”

Memphis 36 North Texas 38 OT
Tied at 25 after regular time, this game was ultimately decided by the NCAA’s so-called ‘Graduation Success Rate’ measure. North Texas Athletic Director Rick Villareal: “All credit for this win goes to NCAA president Myles Brand. From the top down, the NCAA has mandated that data-manipulation is vital, and we followed Dr. Brand’s direction. Otherwise, this one probably would have slipped away.”

Nevada 33 Creighton 78
Nevada coach Mark Fox: “We did not have a chance against a Christian University made like they used to.”

Oregon 0 Miami-Ohio 57
Miami-Ohio coach Charlie Coles: “This is no surprise.

USC 38 Arkansas 33
USC coach Tim Floyd: “Thank god for Arkansas. Or is that Alabama?”

2nd Round
Saturday, March 17

Central Connecticut State 62 Xavier 67
Xavier coach Sean Miller: “We would have preferred a shot at Ohio State, but, frankly, CCS was by far the better matchup.”

Stanford 69 Pennsylvania 93
Stanford coach Trent Johnson: “If we are ever going to truly compete with the Ivy League schools, we will probably have to buckle down and give up the athletic scholarships.”

Butler 82 Davidson 75; Duke 50 Pittsburgh 38; Vanderbilt 67 Washington State 33; Indiana 67 Weber State 43

Boston College 50 Belmont 73
Boston College coach Al Skinner: “In retrospect, it is clear that a move to the Atlantic Sun Conference would have been a far better move. The ACC is dragging us down.”

UNC 64 Michigan State 75
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: “It is healthy that there are still opportunities for traditional powers to compete for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. It will take several miracles, however, if we are to proceed much further.”

Sunday, March 18

Virginia 62 Long Beach State 29
Virginia coach Dave Leitao: “Lucky draw. I will say it again. LUCKY DRAW.”

Illinois 64 Holy Cross 86; Florida 67 Purdue 50; Winthrop 57 Wisconsin 60; USC 38 Texas 50

Creighton 78 North Texas 25
North Texas Athletic Director Rick Villareal: “Not even the best data manipulation available could have overcome the brainpower available at a fine Christian University.”

Georgia Tech 23 Wisconsin 60
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan: “Thank god for Georgia. Or is that Mississippi?”

Niagara 71 Villanova 64
Niagara coach Joe Mihalich: “It is always entertaining to see a smackdown pitting Vincentian and Augustinian values against each other, and I am delighted that the Vincentians emerged triumphant.”

Sweet 16
Thursday, March 22

Virginia 62 Xavier 67; Creighton 78 Pennsylvania 93

Holy Cross 86 Niagara 71
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard: “It is always entertaining to see a smackdown pitting Jesuit and Vincentian values against each other, and I am delighted that the Jesuits emerged triumphant.”

Duke 50 Indiana 67
Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson: “While I hate to say it, today’s result establishes that this is no more a classic Duke team in the classroom than it is on the basketball court.”

Friday, March 23

Vanderbilt 67 Belmont 73; Wisconsin 60 Winthrop 57

Texas 50 Michigan State 75
Texas freshman Kevin Durrant: “It appears that I will have to forego the NBA for several more years if the Longhorns are going to have a chance to advance to the later stages of the tournament.”

Florida 67 Butler 82
Florida coach Billy Donovan: “Noah and the others came back to win another championship but came up short. Hopefully they will stay on and graduate so we can begin to compete with the likes of Butler.”

Elite 8
Saturday, March 24

Xavier 67 Pennsylvania 93
Xavier coach Sean Miller: “If only Pennsylvania was merely a big public state university, as that is the sort of school against which we have had consistent success.”

Indiana 67 Holy Cross 86
Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson: “There is absolutely no shame in losing to a fine Jesuit institution. But would someone tell me how it is appropriate for a Jesuit institution to have a Crusader as a mascot?”

Sunday March 25

Wisconsin 60 Butler 82; Michigan State 75 Belmont 73

Final 4 - Saturday, March 31

Michigan State 75 Pennsylvania 93
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo: “As a big public state university with a huge athletics budget, we were surprised and delighted to make it as far as we did. We were overachievers this year.”

Butler 82 Holy Cross 86
Butler head coach Todd Lickliter: “This was a classic Final 4 matchup between two small, elite, private universities, but we were ultimately outsmarted by the Crusaders. Best of luck to them versus the titans of the tournament, Pennsylvania. They will need it.”

National Championship - Monday, April 2

Holy Cross 86 Pennsylvania 93
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard: “Kudos to Pennsylvania, who did the same thing to us tonight that they have done all season. They chose a random 13 students to play, used them interchangeably throughout the entire game, and ran us ragged. Stanford coach Trent Johnson nailed it a couple weeks ago. If you want to compete with Penn, you had better drop the athletic scholarships.”

But in all seriousness, it is both sad and sadly predictable that low graduation rates make for an excellent predictor of athletic success in revenue sports. At the same time, there are big-time programs like Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, North Carolina, Villanova, and Wisconsin that have proven that there does not need to be a dichotomy between success in the classroom and on the court. What are they doing that other programs are not? How can all academically successful programs be rewarded? What should done to ensure that the laughable NCAA penalties for academic failure are given teeth?


PhilipVU94 said...

Congrats to Belmont for beating us in the Sweet Sixteen. I'd have to insist that this is an upset ;-) but seriously, thank you for doing this to promote a dialogue about what we can do to promote integrity in college athletics.

A subquestion to improving graduation rates is improving the ways we measure grad rates. I know that there are a couple of different metrics, and I'm not clear on which you're using, but it looks like you're using the methodology with the tougher criteria of the two. If that's the case transfers are somewhat more detrimental than they should be. Perhaps you've already posted on the metrics and I've missed it, but if not I'm eager to hear your thoughts on these issues.

Profane said...

Yes Philip, I suppose that Belmont taking down Vanderbilt would qualify as an academic upset 8-).

The metric I am using is the Federally reported 6-year graduation data, which is, as you note, the toughest methodology. The alternative is to utilize the NCAA's 'Graduation Success Rate' (GSR) measure, which DOES take transfers into account. There are several reasons why I am not a big fan of this:

1. At the moment the GSR does not
represent data which is compared against the rest of the student body under the same criteria (one of the advantages, and indeed one of the main points of the Federal data is to make this comparison).

2. Since scholarships (not as many as I would like to see, but some!) are at stake with the GSR, it invites abuse. Cheating is advantageous, unlike with the mandated Federal data where there are serious consequences.

3. The NCAA has been utilizing the GSR as a propaganda tool - inviting comparison between the GSR for athletes and the 6-year graduation data for the general student population - an apples to oranges comparison since the metrics are different.

What is annoying is that the Federal data shows that student-athletes as a whole, and particularly student-athletes in non-revenue sports, graduate at a rate much higher than the general student population. I wish the NCAA would stick to trumpeting that fact, rather than undermining their credibility by utilizing the GSR for a purpose for which it was never intended.