Northwestern No. 1 In The Academic BCS Standings

Scoop: The New America Foundation has released its 2012 “Academic Bowl Championship Series“, and Northwestern comes in at No. 1. Northern Illinois checks in at No. 2, followed by Boise State at No. 3. Florida State ranks last, at No. 25. The rankings only take into account the 25 teams included in the final BCS Standings.

Significance: The rankings are meant to show which schools are best balancing athletics with academics, and which schools do the best job graduating both black/white players. As for the formula, the foundation writes:

“Here’s how our formula works: We calculate the difference between the entire football team’s graduation rate versus that of the male students at the university; the graduation gap between black and white students on the team versus the same gap among the overall school’s male population; and the gap between the graduation rate of black football players versus the black males at the school.* We also factor in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR).”

Story: If you want to see the raw statistics, here’s the file they provide. Northern Illinois and Boise State are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, but graduate 51% and 26% of their general study bodies, respectively. Since they graduate 66% and 61% of their football players, they receive very favorable scores – it basically means that being on the team actually increases the chances they’ll graduate. At Florida State, for example, the general student body graduation rate is 69%, while the football team’s graduation rate is 45%. Furthermore, as New America points out, FSU graduates 100% of its white football players, compared to just 33% of its black players – another reason for such a low score.

The report does not suggest that the higher a school is on the list, the better of an academic institution it is – important to understand.

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Matt is a Co-Founder at College Spun. He can be reached at matt@collegespun.com.