March Madness College Graduation Rates

How many NCAA basketball players are graduating from college?

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March Madness is in full swing and with any luck your bracket picks have been brilliant. I'm not a basketball expert, but I decided that the nation's annual celebration of college basketball could provide a teaching moment for all college-bounds teenagers.

Except for my alma mater (University of Missouri), which got tossed out early, I'm not too interested in the tournament's winners and losers. I am, however, interested in how many basketball players are graduating.

There are huge differences in the graduation rates among the colleges and universities participating in the NCAA basketball tournament, according to an annual report by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. Among the men's teams, 100 percent of the players from seven universities earned a bachelor's degree. In contrast, the worst grad record belongs to the University of Arizona, where only 20 percent of the players leave with a degree.

[See how top academic institutions fared in last year's tournament.]

The women basketball players are clearly the superior students. One hundred percent of the women players at 23 schools managed to graduate. The worst performing honors belong to Hampton University, where just half of the women earn degrees.

When measured by graduation stats, here are the records of the best and worst March Madness teams:

Best Graduation Rates for Men's Teams*

School Name Graduation Rate
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—Little Rock 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 Graduation Rates for Men's Teams

School Name Graduation Rate
University of Arizona 20%
University of Alabama—Birmingham 25%
University of Connecticut 31%
Temple University 33%
University of Michigan 36%
University of Georgia 36%
University of Akron 38%
Kansas State University 40%
University of Tennessee 40%
University of Texas 42%
University of Southern California 42%
Morehead State University 43%
University of Florida 44%
University of Kentucky 44%
University of Missouri 44%
University of Washington 44%

Schools with 100% Grad Rates for Women's Teams

School Name
Bowling Green State University
Duke University
Gardner-Webb University
Iowa State University
Marist College
University of North Carolina
University of Northern Iowa
University of Notre Dame
Ohio State University
Penn State University
Samford University
South Dakota State University
Stanford University
St. Francis University
St. John's University
Texas Tech University
University of Hartford
University of Iowa
University of Miami
University of Tennessee
Vanderbilt University
Xavier University

Worst Graduation Rates for Women's Teams

School Name Graduation Rate
Hampton University 50%
Louisiana Tech University 56%
Prairie View A&M University 57%
Texas A&M University 65%
Stetson University 67%
University of Maryland 67%
West Virginia University 70%
James Madison University 71%
Purdue University 71%
Temple University 71%

So what do graduation records of basketball players have to do with high school students? When teenagers and families are evaluating college possibilities they should always check each school's graduation rates.

In addition to, a great place to find the grad rates of colleges and universities is College Results Online, which is a service of The Education Trust.