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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Pittsburgh, PA

    Should we really be making an issue of Maryland's graduation rates?

    I ask the question, because any comparison of college graduation rates assumes that all schools approach athlete's achievements in the same way. As someone noted on an earlier thread, higher standards for graduation could simply result in more, ahem, streamlined paths for athletes to graduate ... just like what happens when players graduate high school without really being prepared for college.

    And I'm not just talking about "other" schools. At Duke, there's always been a certain pressure for athletes to graduate, regardless of NCAA rules. I recently talked to a Duke athlete from the late 80s/early 90s and found it a jarring experience. He made it clear that many athletes could pretty much choose whether or not to go to class. Along with that, there was some pretty rampant cheating and there were professors who would arbitrarily give passing grades to those who needed them.

    I guess I always assumed that the top-tier athletes had help and got some breaks, but it was pretty jarring to hear that - at least in the case of *some* football and basketball players - their transcripts were a sham. Since that discussion, I've found it hard to take much pride in Duke's graduation rate - though, to be fair, my "informant" noted that he was pretty sure the current guys can't get away with all of the same stuff that was happening back then.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Washington/Baltimore
    I have to whole-heartedly agree. I once worked for a gentleman who played football at an ACC school (not Duke) - I won't mention names, but they won a national title in 1983 or so. He had "graduated" from this institution.

    The man presented well (spoken), but could not write AT ALL. The most basic written communication was beyond him. There is NO WAY that I could be convinced that this individual ever wrote anything on his own in college.

    And yet he "graduated"...

    These "student-athletes" get plenty of help from "tutors" who "help" them with their studies.

    It's a business, people. Never forget that.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Sullivans Island, SC
    I agree to a point. I think that the level of transparency due to the rise of computerization and other technological advancements has made the two previous examples looks awfully archaic. There's too much governance and too much to lose for these professors to blatantly "pass" an athlete based on his standing with the team.

    That being said, IMO the lines have just become blurred. The amount of gray area has expanded exponentially and what is and isn't cheating has become increasingly difficult to nail down.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Calipari Hell
    These days, major universities and their athletic departments are essentially two independent corporations operating under the same umbrella.

    Schools that graduate their athletes should be praised, sure, because that's their institutional philosophy and an admirable one to have. But I'm not losing any sleep over the ones that don't. We can disagree with the system and I certainly do, a lot but in many cases athletes are brought to schools strictly to make money for the athletic departments, period.

    The concept of the "student-athlete" is a romantic one, but it's increasingly becoming a myth, and I don't think that's going to change.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin in Pgh View Post
    I ask the question, because any comparison of college graduation rates assumes that all schools approach athlete's achievements in the same way.
    There is absolutely no way of cooking the books that turns Duke's 92% into Maryland's 8% or vice-versa. At Duke, even high profile athletes DO go to class for the most part (at least as of 00-04 when I was a student), they take summer courses every year to ensure they get enough credits, etc. There is a culture of demanding academic performance which is simply not there at many other schools.

    He made it clear that many athletes could pretty much choose whether or not to go to class.
    So can any student. There are many classes at Duke where attendance hovers at or below 50%. Usually, you are graded on whether you can do the assignments and tests, not whether you attend class.

    Along with that, there was some pretty rampant cheating and there were professors who would arbitrarily give passing grades to those who needed them.
    Nothing unique to athletes there, or to Duke. When I TAed courses at Duke or Stanford, the only students who were ever failed were those who forced the issue. Not handing in assignments, not taking tests, etc. Even students who understood nothing would get a C or a D at worst if they put in some effort.

    I can't speak much for tutors though. On the one hand, athletes should get and do need them. After all, they are forced to miss tons of class legitimately for games and for practice. On the other hand, tutoring in general is subject to abuse. One hopes that schools try to monitor the tutoring and keep it fair, but I wouldn't know.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Pittsburgh, PA

    darthur

    What surprised me was that effort was not really needed. I got a specific example of a professor saying "What grade do you need?" Do you really think any student would get that treatment?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin in Pgh View Post
    What surprised me was that effort was not really needed. I got a specific example of a professor saying "What grade do you need?" Do you really think any student would get that treatment?
    That is certainly not okay, but I heard nothing like that when I was a student at Duke.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Steamboat Springs, CO

    Wink Maryland and... Duke

    Thread title: "Should we really be making an issue of Maryland's graduation rates?"

    I am willing to believe it's an issue at the University of Maryland. You don't have to be hard-liner on academics for athletes. You just have to recognize that being last in graduation rates among Division I schools is just awful.

    The idea of athletes seeking out professors who are easy graders is not not news. The idea of any college student seeking out professors who are easy graders is not shocking either. It's more like, "Duh!" This is about as much news as, "Water flows downhill," and is rather similar, isn't it? Professors and even departments have different approaches to grading. Lots and lots of students are aware of professors' grading practices before enrolling. And, no, it is not a scandal if the Athletic Department's academic advisors and tutors also advise athletes on which courses to take.

    What has made athletics a bit more workable at places like Duke and Stanford is the grade inflation over the past 50 years. When I was at Duke (no, I didn't date Doris Duke; she refused to go out with me), the all-men's average just got over 2.5 the year I graduated. The Trinity average is comfortably above 3.0 now. Students who earn C's today may not distinguish themselves but still pass. In olden times, students who didn't distinguish themselves were likely to get a D or F.

    Both in my day and through the years there have been athletes who were among the smartest people on campus. The center on our basketball team got a PhD in physics from Hopkins. In my daughter's era, the highest MCAT score was earned by a football lineman from Alabama. And I am sure there are examples today.

    So, what does this have to do with the University of Maryland? Well, I believe its graduation rate, however measured, was 8 percent. Eight percent! EIGHT PERCENT! The Duke rate, even with all the concerns expressed by the OP ("kevin in pgh"), is above 90% in both football and basketball and much higher among the Olympic sports. Even granting the OP's concerns about Duke, can you imagine what is going on at UMd? Or, maybe not going on?

    sagegrouse
    'Congratulations to anyone who made it the end of this dreary post'

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    I think the biggest issue here is that Gary Williams is not smart enough to figure out a way to have more of his players graduate.

    I'm just wondering, maybe their tutors are having a problem making the grades.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Cary, NC

    Not just the Terps!!

    It is not just focusing on Maryland although they do have the worst rate but Texas, Baylor, Kentucky, Temple, Washington, GA Tech, UCONN etc.. also needs to be mentioned.

    http://www.tidesport.org/Grad%20Rate...s_Bball_PR.pdf

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ed...te_commitment/

    Schools like Duke, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Siena and Wake need to get much more recognition and praise by the press. There is way to much emphasis on W's and not enough on D's. With only 1% of college players moving on to the pros, if it is not a degree, than what are the expectations for the other 99%. These schools like Maryland are running player mills turning out young men into the real world with nothing. Since they are finished as revenue producers, just dump them. I love to hear Allen Iverson trying to speak in interviews. Georgetown graduates should be extremely embarrassed to think that he attended and stayed academically eligible there for two years. Kudos for UVA for sitting down their star before the ACC tournament for academic reasons.

  11. #11

    Improvement

    IIRC, the 8% is actually an improvement for Maryland. They were at 0% a few years back, so a number of the Crazies showed up with graduation gowns.

    I still haven't figure out how they found so many gowns under such short notice, but it was great. If you wait a bit for the video to load up, you can see the graduation gowns at the beginning of this Duke Blue Planet video:

    http://www.dukeblueplanet.com/content.asp?tid=192

  12. #12
    Williams does have a point that Maryland's improvement since 1999-2003 has been ignored over the 8% report over those years.

    "See, you’ll never put in there that our four seniors will graduate this year or that we’ve graduated 10 out of our last 12 players. That’s my quote. And our academic support system is completely different than it was ’99 to 2003. You’re talking about eight years ago, seven years ago where things were different.” -- to the Washington Post

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    New York, NY
    There are complicating factors. Many of our football and basketball players come from high schools that are much worse than the typical Duke feeder high school (though there are exceptions), and quite a few of the people who play one of the two big sports around the country are from families in which they are the only ones who ever stepped on a college campus. Further, many well known colleges have fairly low graduation rates for all students, not just athletes, and national rates tend to be especially low for African-American men.

    I am unimpressed by some old grad saying that Duke profs handed out passing grades. Is it possible that someone said, "so what grade do you need to pass?" Sure, but I've more clearly heard Duke profs say that they viewed our football players (and their near 100% graduation rates) with respect because they seemed--as a group--diligent and genuinely appreciative of the opportunity to go to a college like Duke. Are they winning Rhodes Scholarships? Probably not, but neither did I...

    OTOH, I'm a big fan of incentivizing--as the NCAA did with its entrance requirements a few years back. So, if colleges were told that in order to participate in the NCAA tournament or a bowl game, they needed to have graduated 40% of their entering students during the prior 3 years (leaving out NBA/NFL early entries and transfers to other universities), I think you'd see recruiting change and grad rates go up; a legitimate outcry would be heard from people who would point out that a place like Maryland might then field a team composed of 8 ACC players and 6 academic ringers (who would often be second tier athletically and probably disproproportionately white), but it'd be a start--plus, top-notch players would avoid going to schools that were at risk for dropping below the 40% rate (though perhaps they could then allow academically-eligible people to flee their schools without penalty if the school is on academic probation).

    Of course, the above would heavily benefit Duke, which is an added bonus.
    Last edited by johnb; 03-23-2010 at 03:17 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Back in the dirty Jerz
    I have two data points, therefore what I'm about to say is statistically significant enough to be fact and not opinion.

    ;-)

    My wife (while a grad student) was asked if she wanted to be a tutor for the football team at NCSU. She talked to a classmate who had done it and quit. Apparently she quit after she found out there was an expectation from the player that she would basically do his work for her.

    While a student at Duke, I TA'd an intro physics class in which a scholarship basketball player was a student. I also tutored him privately on the side. He showed up to class, handed in all his assignments, and asked good questions. He frankly needed less tutoring than others in the class.
    -- DukeUsul

  15. #15
    Students aren't required to attend lectures as a general rule, though some profs try to force attendance anyway by participation grades, random quizzes; discussion sections and labs are exceptions. In that regard, athletes actually have higher standards than the rest of the student body - their attendance is both monitored and mandatory (according to friends of mine from the football team at least). I also know that a major athlete recieved a D in a class I was in, so I don't think the grades are fugded.

    I'd also like to remind people in this thread that "Student Athletes" are more than just the revenue sports. I don't think the swim, track and field or fencing teams, among others, appreciate being disparaged for no good reason.

  16. #16
    I only went to a few classes attended by basketball players at Duke. I was struck by two things:

    1) They missed a lot of classes. This is not to say they were skipping class. The travel schedule for the team is ridiculous, paritucalrly in the spring. How many non-atheletes are out of town 2-5 days a week in college?

    2) The classes were relatively easy. This is not to say the professors were fraudulently giving out grades. They just were classes where if you did the basic work and gave a crap, you got an A or B without too much effort. I would be shocked and disappointed if the Duke athletic department isn't constantly updating a list of classes that are athlete-friendly in terms of the demand they place on students.

    Being a highly recruited Division 1 athlete in a revenue sport is just a whole different endeavor than the average undergraduate experience. It is much more challenging overall to be an athlete, but academically it is often easier by necessity. The occassional Duke player who is in Engineering or a challenging major--I honestly have no idea how they do it.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Baltimore
    Just to be clear, this "graduation rate" stat applies only to students that matriculate for 4 years (not those that leave early to the pros, or transfer). Is that right?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Cary, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by johnb View Post
    OTOH, I'm a big fan of incentivizing--as the NCAA did with its entrance requirements a few years back. So, if colleges were told that in order to participate in the NCAA tournament or a bowl game, they needed to have graduated 40% of their entering students during the prior 3 years (leaving out NBA/NFL early entries and transfers to other universities), I think you'd see recruiting change and grad rates go up; a legitimate outcry would be heard from people who would point out that a place like Maryland might then field a team composed of 8 ACC players and 6 academic ringers (who would often be second tier athletically and probably disproproportionately white), but it'd be a start--plus, top-notch players would avoid going to schools that were at risk for dropping below the 40% rate (though perhaps they could then allow academically-eligible people to flee their schools without penalty if the school is on academic probation).

    Of course, the above would heavily benefit Duke, which is an added bonus.
    When you think about this proposal of 40% rate, the last four players on a thirteen player squad hardly ever play and are there for a free ride and education. To reach the 40%, all you need is one player out of the first nine to graduate to reach the 40%. One, I do not think this is asking alot!! Love to know the rate for starters.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by DukeHopkins View Post
    Just to be clear, this "graduation rate" stat applies only to students that matriculate for 4 years (not those that leave early to the pros, or transfer). Is that right?
    I think there is some fuzzy wording because I have plugged in the Duke players in the years mentioned, and if you discount the early entries to the NBA, it works perfectly. So basically, the guys who transfer in good academic standing (like Jamal Boykin or Eric Boateng) don't count for or against us. Neither do the guys who leave early and come back to get a degree (Mike Dunleavy Jr., Jay Williams, etc). However, the guys who leave in poor academic standing (Avery) before transferring and the guys who go pro but don't come back to graduate in the allotted time period (Brand, Maggette) do count against us.

    And to go back to the topic, while I was at Duke, I only had class with one basketball player, DeMarcus Nelson. While he wasn't exactly an active participant in the class, he always showed up unless the team was playing a Thursday night game, handed in his assignments, and could answer questions when called on. My friends who had classes with Greg Paulus, Shelden Williams, Sean Dockery, and Luol Deng all said the same things. They all seemed to take their classes pretty seriously and there were definitely some regular students who seemed to blow off their coursework much more than the basketball players. I realize that there aren't going to be too many athletes in revenue sports who are majoring in engineering or the hard sciences (although Miles apparently was in some engineering classes as a freshman), but based on what a lot of the alumni have gone to accomplish outside of basketball, I think Duke has a noticeably better mix of academics and sports for their most high-profile athletes than almost all D-1 teams.

    And yes, Maryland does deserve to be bashed for their absolutely abysmal graduation rates. Any complaint about low standards at other schools can certainly be levied against Maryland as well.

  20. #20
    Should we as duke fans make an issue out of maryland's graduation rate? I think not.

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