Many congratulations to the Tennessee Volunteers on their 59-46 victory over Rutgers last night in the DI Women’s National Championship game. Many congratulations, as well, to Pat Summitt, on winning her seventh National Championship as a coach – in Basketball, only living legend Coach Wooden, at ten, has won more.
The programs at both Tennessee and Rutgers also deserve kudos for the academic performance of their players. Tennessee has an 80% graduation rate, and Rutgers a 77% graduation rate. What is most impressive about Women’s Basketball is that, even beyond these two programs, there is no need to put an asterisk next to the term student-athlete. Tennessee would not even place within the top 10 programs represented in this years’ NCAA tournament. The following schools post better graduation rates: Baylor (82%); Notre Dame (82%); Duke (83%); Texas Christian (83%); Stanford (85%); Wisconsin Green Bay (85%); Temple (86%); Texas A&M (86%); BYU (90%); Vanderbilt (91%); Depaul (92%); Harvard (98%). But Harvard does not come out tops. Both Belmont and Holy Cross have posted 100% graduation rates in their Women’s Basketball programs.
But, as we are always told for revenue sports, success requires making compromises? Right? Four Women’s programs appear to be making those compromises, and they deserve to be named and shamed (the irony being that only one of these teams advanced beyond the second round). Boise State, West Virginia, and Arizona State posted graduation rates of 47%, 40%, and 30% respectively, comparable to the middling programs in the Men’s tournament. The real stinker, however, is the University of Texas at Arlington, which is graduating an appalling 8% of its players.
Dishonorable mentions must also go to Final 4 participants North Carolina and Louisiana State, who managed graduation rates of a whopping 50%. Lets hope that each of these programs remain to be the exceptions that prove the rule.