PSU's culture remains unchanged - among the best at combining athletics and academics
There is clearly a serious “culture problem” at Penn State, but don’t take my word for it, according to a recent report from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (Harper, Williams, Jr., & Blackman, 2013), Penn State’s “culture problem” lands them in the questionable company of universities such as Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, and Georgetown.
10 Universities with the Highest Black Male Student-Athlete Graduation Rates
Rank University Graduation Rate
1 Northwestern 83%
2 Notre Dame 81%
3 Villanova University 78%
3 Penn 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%
Moreover, according to the same study, the graduation rate of Black male student-athletes at Penn State is 13% higher than the overall graduation rate for Black male students at PSU. The travesty! But wait, it gets worse! The graduation rate of Black male student-athletes at Penn State is the highest in the Big Ten. Throw in all student-athletes at Penn State and the graduation rate becomes an embarrassing 79%- also the highest in the Big Ten. A very serious culture problem to say the least!
Let’s put this “culture problem” in perspective.
For comparison sake, let’s pick at random (not) a couple of other universities such as the University of Washington and LSU. The graduation rate of black male student-athletes at the University of Washington is 59%. The graduation rate for all student-athletes at UW is 73%- a 14% difference. The graduation rate for Black male student-athletes at LSU is 41%. The overall graduation rate for student-athletes at LSU is 54%- a 13% difference. As you probably know, a past–president of those two universities is current NCAA President, Mark Emmert.
Here is the real culture problem that the NCAA needs to address: What sort of university culture allows these racial inequities in graduation rates to persist?
Let’s take another comparison; the graduation rate for Black male student-athletes at Michigan State University is 45%. The graduation rate for all student-athletes at Michigan State is 68%-- a 23% difference. Again, a significant racial inequity. Yet, according to recent posts by MSU President Lou Anna Simon, ‘it will take some time for Penn State to correct its culture problem.’
Perhaps Dr. Simon should consider the racial difference in graduation rates at Penn State (1%) versus her own university (23%) before she claims that Penn State has a culture problem. Again, I would ask President Simon: What sort of academic culture tolerates this racial disparity? President Simon is either ignorant of the facts or disingenuous in her comments.
Which is it President Simon? Neither position is defensible for a university president.
Those espousing the “culture problem” claim may also want to consider the following. In 2012, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) recognized the Penn State football program for its Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for the 22nd time in the AFCA's annual Academic Achievement Award survey. Only Notre Dame has been recognized more frequently (23) for their GSR.
The AFCA also recognized Penn State for having a graduation rate of 91% using data available in 2012. According to the gopsusports.com website, Penn State received recognition for their graduation rates in 1998-1999, 2001-2003, 2005-2011 as well as 1985-87-88-89-91-92-93=94-95 when PSU was a member of the College Football Association. In 2002-2005, Penn State’s football program was ranked 7th among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams for its Graduation Success Rate.
In short, the culture problem that Penn State seems to have created is that other institutions have trouble equaling the success that PSU has experienced with regarding to blending excellence in academics and athletics.
As the lead author from the University of Pennsylvania study referenced above noted, “Penn State has one of the most sophisticated athletic academic support systems that I ever seen.”
So the NCAA can continue to claim that Penn State has a culture problem but their claims do not mesh with the facts.
Come to think of it, I guess that makes sense.
The NCAA hasn’t allowed the facts to influence their actions against Penn State so far, why should anyone expect them to really do so now?