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2011 March Madness: Best and Worst Graduation Rates

As 2011 March Madness erupts this week, let's take a moment to see whether the college Basketball on courtbasketball players, who made it to the NCAA basketball tournament, are excelling in the classroom too.

Some of the 68 schools that captured a spot in the NCAA basketball brackets are doing a miserable job of graduating their Division I basketball players.

A special wag of the finger goes to the University of Arizona, which only managed to graduate one out of every five basketball players. What's up with that?

On the flip side, congratulations are in order for seven teams which managed to graduate every single player.

Five of the schools with perfect graduation rates for their basketball players are private institutions, but the University of Illinois and Utah State managed to pull off this feat too. If these big state schools can graduate all their Division I basketball players, why can't flagships with mediocre grad rates such as University of Connecticut and University of Michigan do the same?

March Madness Winners and Losers in the Classroom

Here are the schools with the best and worst graduations rates that I pulled from the annual report of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

Best Grad Rates for 2011 March Madness Bracket Schools

  • Belmont University 100%
  • Brigham Young University 100%
  • University of Illinois 100%
  • University of Notre Dame 100%
  • Utah State University 100%
  • Villanova University 100%
  • Wofford College 100%
  • Vanderbilt University 93%
  • Xavier University 92%
  • University of Arkansas 92%
  • Bucknell University 91%
  • Marquette University 91%
  • Boston University 90%
  • University of North Carolina 88%
  • Penn State University 86%
*Princeton University would presumably make this list, but Ivy League schools do not report their graduation rates.

Worst Grad Rates for 2011 March Madness Bracket Schools

  • Arizona University 20%
  • U. of Alabama Birmingham 25%
  • U. of Connecticut 31%
  • Temple University 33%
  • University of Michigan 36%
  • Akron University 38%
  • University of Georgia 36%
  • Kansas State University 40%
  • University of Tennessee 40%
  • University of Texas 42%
  • University of Southern Cal. 42%
  • Morehead State University 43%
  • University of Florida 44%
  • University of Kentucky 44%
  • University of Missouri 44%
  • University of Washington 44%
The Institute noted that the overall graduation rates for basketball players participating in March Madness did increase this year to 66%.

The gap between white and African American players, however, grew by four percentage point to 32%. Ninety one percent of white basketball players graduate, but only 59% of African-American basketball players graduate. Obviously, that's unacceptable.

More on CBS MoneyWatch:

Top 25 State Universities for Graduating On Time
Athletes, Sex and March Madness
March Madness 2010 Brackets: Best and Worst Graduation Rates
College Drinking: Top 5 Risk Factors
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