NCAA Exploits Black Male Athletes

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I’m not a fan of the NCAA.

I believe the organization is hypocritical, morally bankrupt, inconsistent, untrusthworthy, lacks true precedential value, and is the worst lawful organization in America today.

Worst of all, it’s an organization whose entire purpose is predicated upon one mission — ensuring that those who have nothing complete their eligibility still having nothing. That is, the entire purpose of the NCAA’s amateurism standard is to ensure that talented individuals receive no “improper benefits” for making their institutions and the NCAA itself billions of dollars a year. Remember, a rich parent isn’t an improper benefit. Basically, the NCAA’s enforcement arm exists to ensure that the poor remain poor.

I’m often asked what my political beliefs are and I answer simply — I’m pro-markets and anti-stupidity.

Put simply, I’m anti-NCAA.

Now come sobering statistics from college athletics, according to a recent exhaustive study of the 76 largest programs in collegiate athletics, those that play in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac12, and Big East, just 50.2 percent of all black athletes in revenue producing sports graduate within six years.

That statistic should be eye-opening to you because the NCAA claims otherwise in television advertisements that frequently air during the NCAA tournament, an event for which the NCAA receives in excess of $700 million a year from its broadcast partners.

Quoth the study:

“The Association has a television commercial in which it claims that Black male student-athletes at Division I institutions graduate at rates higher than do Black men in the general student body. This is true across the entire division, but not for the six conferences whose member institutions routinely win football and basketball championships, play in multimillion-dollar bowl games and the annual basketball championship tournament, and produce the largest share of Heisman trophy winners. Across these 76 colleges and universities, Black male student-athletes graduate at 5.3 percentage points lower than their same-race male peers who are not on intercollegiate sports teams. That an average of 49.8% of Black male student-athletes on these campuses do not graduate within six years is a major loss.”

I know this will shock y’all, but the NCAA is manipulating data to try and convince you that the athletes you’re watching are actually receiving something in exchange for their labors, namely a college degree. But that’s just not true. When you watch the NCAA tournament on television, the majority of the players you cheer for will not graduate or play professionally. Indeed, just two percent of all NCAA athletes ever play professionally.

The report is full of eye-opening stats. For instance, black males made up just 2.8% of the student bodies at these 76 schools, yet black men represented 57.1% of football players and 64.3% of basketball players.

The central facts of the study reveal the following: “50.2% of Black male student-athletes graduated within six years, compared to 66.9% of studentathletes overall, 72.8% of undergraduate students overall, and 55.5% of Black undergraduate men overall. 96.1% of these NCAA Division I colleges and universities graduated Black male student-athletes at rates lower than student-athletes overall.”

How sobering are these stats?

So despite the fact that they bring in billions of dollars a year to these schools, the universities still can’t find a way for black male athletes to succeed in the classroom?

The NCAA likes to argue that the vast majority of its student athletes will be “going pro in something other than sports.”

But that’s not true for a large percentage of black athletes. Unless, that is, you can go pro in something other than sports without a college degree.

Indeed, nearly half of these players will be receiving nothing in exchange for their labors that send billions of dollars a year into college institutions. Does that strike you as downright immoral? It does me. In fact, it strikes me as a whole hell of a lot more immoral than a multi-million dollar NCAA investigation into free tattoos.

So if these athletes aren’t receiving a college degree, what are these kids receiving for their time, labor, and effort?

Often, nothing.

Now, you can argue that it’s a student-athlete’s obligation to get his own education, but if the student-athlete’s primary purpose is to play sports — and don’t argue with me that this isn’t the case when billions of dollars a year rely on this fact — are the schools really incentivized to ensure their students are learning? And how many eighteen year old’s who think they’re going pro, as just about every kid who accepts a scholarship to one of these schools believes, are really going to take control of their educational future? 

The answer, not many.    

Plus, are the schools not morally responsible for the kids they admit? Especially when the schools throw a fit anytime increased eligibility requirements are suggested. If you want academically unprepared athletes on campus, can you really throw up your hands and say what more can we do when over half of your students don’t graduate? I don’t think so. Doesn’t the school have to provide more than a mere opportunity for a student to graduate, doesn’t a school making billions off the free labor of athletes have a moral obligation to ensure that its admitted athletes graduate? I think so.

We talk a ton about morality in college athletics. How immoral is it for nearly half of your black male athletes to leave school without a degree while you’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on indoor football facilities?

What’s more, 49.8 percent not graduating is an averaage, many of these schools are barely graduating a third of their black athletes in revenue producing sports. Look at the ten worst performers over this six year study, every major conference in the country is included so be careful drawing conclusions about who is failing their students, the failure is systematic:

1 Iowa State University 30%
2 University of South Florida 31%
2 University of Arizona 31%
2 University of Arkansas 31%
5 Florida State University 34%
5 University of Florida 34%
7 Indiana University 36%
7 Arizona State University 36%
7 Mississippi State University 36%
10 University of Minnesota 37%

On the flip side, ten schools are doing a relatively good job graduating their black athletes:

1 Northwestern University 83%
2 University of Notre Dame 81%
3 Villanova University 78%
3 Pennsylvania State University 78%
5 Vanderbilt University 74%
6 Duke University 73%
7 Wake Forest University 70%
7 Georgetown University 70%
9 Boston College 68%
9 Stanford University 68%

Sadly, these ten schools are the exception.

Most schools are bringing in black athletes, making billions off their labor, and frequently leaving them without a college degree when their eligibility expires. Don’t believe me? You can see the results for all 76 colleges in the country by reading this study. Chances are the school you root for is failing as well. Of course, it’s not just a failure of the NCAA and these institutions, it’s also a failure of the fans and sports media. How much have you heard about this study compared to, for example, the coaching search at SEC schools? If I hadn’t been tipped off by a high-ranking college administrator, this study would have sailed by and I would have never noticed it. How much do fans actually care about athletes graduating from their schools?

Most fans don’t seem to care at all, unless it’s to rip a college kid for going pro early and not “getting his education.”

Have we really reached an era when we just accept the fact that all players on our teams are mercenaries?

It appears so.  

Read the study, it’s eye-opening.

With billions of dollars rolling into the college football playoff and the NCAA tournament every year, this academic failure is a moral issue of the highest order — how can we permit these student-athletes to produce this kind of value while providing nothing of value in return to them?

Of course, there’s a word for making billions off the upcompensated labor of others.

We outlawed it everywhere in this country after the Civil War.

Except in the NCAA.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions, and started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers.