The Graduation Gap Bowl
Call it the academic version of pro football’s “two-minute warning.’’ The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced a coming ban on postseason play for teams with low graduation rates. It will start in the 2012-13 season for teams that do not graduate about 46 percent of their players. That standard will rise to 50 percent two years later. The latter standard has long been advocated by reformers. One school that should be paying close attention is the University of Massachusetts. Next season it is moving up into the NCAA’s bowl division as a member of the Mid-American Conference. When the postseason ban was announced, the commissioner of that conference, Jon Steinbrecher, said, “I think all of us would applaud and welcome that we’re going to link educational outcomes to championship eligibility.’’ My 16th annual Graduation Gap Bowl makes it a very open question how much Steinbrecher will truly will be applauding. The MAC has five teams playing in the 35 bowl games. But only one of them, Northern Illinois, would score a “Touchdown’’ in the Gap Bowl for a graduation rate of at least 50 percent and a racial gap of less than 15 percentage points.