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Brigham Young and Utah State universities are among a select group of schools whose basketball teams had perfect graduation rates and are playing in the NCAA Tournament, according to a study released Monday.
Just seven teams in the men's basketball tournament, which begins this week, graduated 100 percent of their players, according to NCAA statistics used in the research conducted by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. In addition to BYU and Utah State, five other schools achieved a 100 percent graduation rate: Belmont, Notre Dame, Villanova, Wofford and Illinois.
The Aggies, the 12th seed in the tournament's Southeast region, play Kansas State on Thursday, while BYU, No. 3 in the same region, plays Wofford on Thursday.
"As always, there are schools that win big enough to be here in March and graduate their student-athletes," institute director Richard E. Lapchick said in the report. "If we were to choose a Top 10 for Graduation Success Rates, these schools would be there: Belmont, Notre Dame, Villanova, Wofford, Illinois, BYU, Utah State, Vanderbilt and Arkansas–Little Rock."
The University of Utah women's basketball team is the lone local school represented in the women's tournament. The Utes graduated 83 percent of their student-athletes. They play No. 2 seed Notre Dame on Saturday at the Huntsman Center.
Race was a particularly large issue in the report, although not for local schools. Nationally, according to the study, 30 men's teams in the tournament have a disparity of 30 or more percentage points between the graduation rates of their white and black players.
That was not an issue for BYU or Utah State, which were listed as graduating 100 percent of their white and black players. The Utah women were listed as graduating none of their black athletes. Athletic department spokeswoman Liz Abel said Utah has only had three black players since 1996, not counting current junior guard Janita Badon. All of those three transferred out while in good academic standing.
The report did not count athletes who transferred from schools while listed in good academic standing.