Black Male Athletes Make Up a High Percentage of Black Male Enrollments in Power 5 Conferences

A new report from the Center for American Progress concludes that colleges and universities are making a great deal of money on football and men’s basketball – sports where African American men make up a large percentage of all athletes – while the African American athletes are not adequately reaping the benefits of this money-making machine.

The report states that “Black male college athletes are getting a bad deal. Their work on the court and the field generates vast profits for the NCAA, member colleges, and TV networks, yet student-athletes receive no share of the profits they generate. Moreover, the majority of black student-athletes participate in sports with the highest risks of physical injury.”

The report notes that currently, Black men represent less than 10 percent of total full-time, undergraduate male degree seekers at nearly all of the colleges in each of the Power Five conferences. In fact, black men are so underrepresented at Power Five conference schools that Black male athletes represent a sizable chunk of these colleges’ full-time, undergraduate Black male student populations.”

In these conferences White male athletes are 2 percent of all White men enrolled at these institutions. In contrast, Black male athletes make up 16 percent of all Black male students at these schools. At some universities, Black male athletes are more than one third of all Black male students enrolled.

The report concludes that “when institutions get a disproportionate share of their Black male undergraduate enrollment through their athletic departments, the message to students, the public at large, and young Black men is clear: One of the few ways for Black men to gain access to a top-tier college is through sports. This narrative is symptomatic of a badly broken system of access to higher education, and it can cause high schools and colleges to emphasize athletic programs over academics.”


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