ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Women's teams competing in the NCAA tournament are graduating their players at a higher rate than their male counterparts.
A study released Tuesday by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport shows the women graduating at a rate of 87 percent, compared to 72 percent for the men.
The women's field has 21 teams graduating at 100 percent.
Northwestern State University was the lone women's NCAA tourney team to fall below the NCAA-mandated Academic Progress Rate score of 930, or 50 percent graduation rate equivalent. Eight men's teams were below that standard.
The women also saw 1 percentage point decrease in the disparity between the graduation rates of white and African-Americans. That gap is five percentage points. It is a 24-point gap for men's teams.
Study author Richard Lapchick said the women's success in consistently closing the gap between white and African-American players is proof that the men's gap can also be reduced.
"Clearly the thing that troubles me in these reports the most is the gap between white and African-American athletes, though for women it's very different, and it includes a number of situations where the rates for African-Americans are higher than whites," Lapchick said.
Lapchick said he would like to see disparity gaps be factored into APR calculations to motivate both men and women's teams to improve their numbers.
"If (the gap) is narrowing, it should be a positive impact, but if there is a 30 percentage point or more gap and not narrowing, they should be facing penalties," he said.
Currently, teams scoring below a 925 APR can lose up to 10 percent of their scholarships. Teams can also be subject to penalties for poor academic performance over time.