Black college athletes are graduating at higher rates than in the past.
The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for black athletes is 62 percent in 2009, up from 59 percent three years ago, according to a report released Monday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
The NCAA uses the GSR to measure graduation rates.
"These results reflect what we've been saying for a long time — the opportunities available through intercollegiate athletics and the hard work of many have led to academic improvement for African-American student-athletes, especially African-American male student-athletes," NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in an e-mail. "We hope and expect this progress will continue."
The GSR for black football players in the top division rose from 54 to 58 percent. It increased from 49 to 54 percent for men's basketball players and from 71 to 76 percent in women's basketball.
Federal graduation rates for black athletes improved from 35 percent for students entering school in 1984 to 53 percent for those entering in 2001. The federal rate uses a different formula than the GSR, which takes into account athletes who transfer between schools.
A gap remains in graduation rates between white and black athletes, but the study found it is shrinking. The federal rate for white athletes entering school in 1984 was 59 percent, 24 percentage points higher than for black athletes. The gap had decreased to 15 percentage points for students entering in 2001, when the federal rate for white athletes was 68 percent.
The report also found that African-American athletes are graduating at higher rates than black college students as a whole. The most recent federal rate for all black students was 45 percent, compared with 53 percent for athletes.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.