UCLA is "one and done" in the Academic NCAA Tournament

In an interesting take on this year’s NCAA Tournament brackets, UCLA is one and done in the tournament and would actually have "lost" to 56 of the 68 teams in this year’s tournament. In the report, “Keeping Score When it Counts: Graduation Success and Academic Progress Rates for the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament Teams,” released by University of Central Florida this week, data was presented on graduation rates (GSR) comparing all universities and colleges in the NCAA tournament. This data has been collected and reported by UCF since 2003 in varying forms in response to NCAA rules changes in 2011 that requires teams to exceed an Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 930—which represents a roughly 50 percent graduation rate—averaged over four years to be eligible for postseason play.

In his blog post on Education Week,” Academic Predictions for the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament,” Bryan Toporak summarized the report and created his own brackets using the GSR numbers for the 68 teams in this year’s NCAA tournament. He predicts a repeat of the 2008 championship between Memphis and Kansas, with Kansas prevailing as the academic champ. UCLA would "lose" in the first round to Minnesota, 954-943. This GSR score represents the graduation rates of Division I student-athletes and includes student-athletes who transfer into institutions. Student-athletes who leave before graduating (to pursue professional sports interests, for example) can be excluded from the GSR as long as they would have been academically eligible to participate in sports had they stayed.

What I found most disturbing about this report, and what brings more damning information to light about the current status of our program under TGCIC and Chianti Dan, is how low our graduation rates are in comparison to the rest of the nation. In fact, when you go to the UCF website, and read past year’s reports, you can see that UCLA’s numbers have actually dropped from 968 to the current 943. (Of course there are a couple of years where we don’t have any information as we didn’t make the tournament!) (More than compensated for by those three Final Four years. . .)

While the prestige and history of athletics at UCLA is what brings us together at Bruins Nation, UCLA is first and foremost an academic institution, from which many of us proudly graduated, and this is what we want for those student-athletes that wear our four letters on their chests. While winning championships is important, preparing student-athletes for the professional world should be the first priority for our University and falls on the shoulders of our coach and athletic department to make sure these athletes are prepared and succeeding in the classroom.

While much has been presented and championed on the pages of Bruins Nation to justify an immediate change in coach and athletic director, I find this academic information to be the frosting on the cake. If Chancellor Block is not concerned with the sporting performance of our athletes, how about the academic performance of our athletes? Shouldn’t the decline of graduation rates be an important consideration as well?

Should we need further information to champion the academic cause, may I point out the GSRs from a few other choice schools in comparison to our 943.

VCU (956)

Butler (a perfect 1000!)

Michigan State (981)

Gonzaga (979)

I think the path to follow is clear. Let’s hope Chancellor Block feels the same way.


<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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