Dispelling the Myth of the “Dumb Black Jock” in College Athletics

Despite the public’s perception of black college athletes as “dumb jocks” who are in college only to compete on the athletic field, the evidence is clear that black scholarship athletes actually perform better academically than black students as a whole. Overall, without reference to athletics, the latest data compiled by the National Collegiate Athletic Association show that only 38 percent of black men who enter college in this country graduate within six years. But 48 percent of black male scholarship athletes earn their diplomas within the six-year period. The two sports most criticized for fielding teams of “dumb jocks” — football and men’s basketball — have black graduation rates higher than the rate for black men overall.

For black women, the overall graduation rate is 48 percent, but the graduation rate jumps to 64 percent for black women who are scholarship athletes. The graduation rate for black women athletes actually is higher than the national average for all white male college students, including athletes and nonathletes.

It is likely that the financial aid provided by an athletic scholarship is a critical factor in enabling many black student athletes to stay in school.

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