Bowl-Bound College Football Teams: Racial Disparity in Graduation Rates

Disparities between graduation rates among African American and White Student Athletes
February 1, 2016


Football Player


Earlier this month Clemson (No.1) and Alabama (No.2) competed in the national championships to determine who would rein champion of the 2015 college football season. What followed was a fight until the end between two powerhouses represented by some of the most talented student athletes from the country. While the athletic prowess between teams in the College Bowl this season arguably was the toughest anybody has seen, the academic careers of some of the players on these teams remain in flux. Most troubling, the gap between the academic graduation rates of African-American football players and white football players on college football teams during the 2015-2016 season grew and remained rather large this season.The University of Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) found that the overall graduation rate for all college football players remained at 73%, the same as 2014, however the gap between African-American and white football players graduating grew from 18% to 19%. Moreover, the recent study found that the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) was at 66% for African-American football players, while the average GSR for white student athletes remained at 86%.

Therefore, it is important to wonder why African-American football players are increasingly not graduating at the same rates as their white counterparts. While the TIDES study finds that the large gap can be attributed to the lack of academic preparation many African-American student athletes have before college, there are other variables that we might want to consider and hope that we can significantly reduce this gap over the next college football season.

Highest GRS of African American Athletes at Bowl-Bound Colleges
Duke 98%
Northwestern 96%
Notre Dame 95%
Stanford 94%
Utah State 94%


Lowest GRS of African American Athletes at Bowl-Bound Colleges
Georgia Southern 47%
Iowa 45%
California 44%
Michigan State 43%
Akron 41%

Anuj Gupta Anuj Gupta is a third year law student hoping to pursue Entertainment law (specialize in Internet privacy and entertainment law). Prior to law school, he worked at the Smithsonian where his short film was shown as part of a permanent exhibition. This past summer he worked as a Privacy and Public Policy team at Facebook. He currently works with an entertainment attorney based in LA and at the Network Advertising Initiative.