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Life After Basketball: Graduation Rates From Rival Schools That Will Surprise You

Eloy Vargas transfered to Kentucky from a Florida program that has graduated only 38% of its players, excluding those bound for the NBA.

Eloy Vargas transferred to Kentucky from a Florida program that has graduated only 38% of its players over a six year period, excluding players bound for the NBA.

On April 5th of this year, CNN ran a story titled, “Life after basketball takes former players down different paths.” I don’t recall this story being posted on KSR at the time (I think we were still celebrating too hard and missed it), but if it was I apologize. The article centers around a former UConn basketball player and college dropout, Jonathan Mandeldove . Given the fact that UConn is not eligible for the NCAA Tournament this season due to academic struggles, Mandeldove’s story doesn’t really raise anyone’s eyebrow. But did you know, according to the article, that Florida, Michigan, and Indiana have graduated less than 50% of their non NBA-bound players in the last six seasons? Or do you know that more than a dozen schools didn’t graduate at least half their players in recent seasons?

There is a difference between departing seniors and graduating seniors. Billy Donovan, a coach who is thought to do things “the right way”, keeps most of his players around for four years at Florida. The misconception is that all of these players graduate, but many of them don’t. Florida has graduated 38% of its players excluding those bound for the NBA in the last six years. I seem to recall they’ve had a lot of seniors go through their program, but just because a player goes through Senior Day festivities, it doesn’t mean they are going through a graduation ceremony.  At UK under John Calipari, players have left the program in good academic standing and continued to be successful in one of three ways:

  1. Earn millions in the NBA
  2. Graduate
  3. Do both, like Patrick Patterson (after 3 years) or Josh Harrellson and Darius Miller (after four)

Or possibly, as we saw this week, you can still leave school after only a year and decide to return in future summers to continue your education. It may take a while, but eventually it can be done.

We learned this week that Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will return to UK this summer to continue their education. To me, this is a big story that hasn’t quite received the attention it deserves. How many No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks are concerned about continuing college credit hours the summer after they become millionaires in the NBA? Not many, but if Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist follow through with their education, they’ll have plenty of options to consider in their lives after basketball. If they ever want to pursue coaching, for example, they can do that with a college degree.

Whatever your opinion is of John Calipari, you cannot deny that his players come first. When players leave Kentucky, they are better off than they were before, which is actually what higher education is supposed to do for students. As you can see in the CNN article, that isn’t the case in a whole lot of places. The title of the article, “Life after basketball takes former players down different paths,” does seem to be true at Kentucky, but in a good way. Mark Krebs, for example, wrote an inspirational book about his Mom’s battle with cancer and is now pursuing an acting career. Krebs’ life after basketball has taken a very different path than many of his Kentucky teammates now in the NBA, but what seems to be the common denominator is that all of Calipari’s players at UK seem to do very well after they leave the program in good standing (a couple have not, and aren’t doing as well).

There are a lot of things wrong with college basketball right now, but it’s not the “one and done” rule or John Calipari like many may suggest. Maybe it’s time for Pete Thamel, Pat Forde and the rest of the moral compasses of college basketball to start knocking on doors around Gainesville, FL to see what’s going on down there. As much as I’d like to hammer Indiana for their poor graduation rate, it’s likely a result of the Sampson era. Billy Donovan at Florida, however, has no excuse for graduating only 38% of his non-NBA departures. 


EDIT: Thanks to Brandon from the comments section, you can click here for the most recent release of UK’s 78% graduation rate in comparison.

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

23 Comments for Life After Basketball: Graduation Rates From Rival Schools That Will Surprise You

  1. Stig
    10:09 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    What Cal players are t doing very well? Dodson? Who else?

  2. EC
    10:12 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    Great piece with hard facts that the mainstream media will continue to ignore.

  3. Every IU fan
    10:12 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    But I thought Bob Knight said that Worldwide Wes pays UK players to not study and to skip class?

  4. KT
    10:15 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    1, Orton

  5. Adam
    10:16 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    If Coach Cal ran into a burning building to save a crippled child, there are three or four reporters who would crap on the story by insinuating that he started the fire. If you ever meet the man or spend any time around him at all, and see the way he interacts with others, it’s very hard to believe all of the negative crap that is spewed about him, unless you have an agenda like Pete Thamel.

  6. EC
    10:19 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    Dodson and Orton were two of the biggest horses a**** to ever walk on campus.They have no one to blame bit themselves.

  7. BluegrassMD
    10:24 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    What’s the graduation rate at UK for non drafted players? Seems like an important reference point to evaluate how I feel about UF’s 38%.

  8. Brandon
    10:34 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    @4 uhh, Orton’s in the NBA making money. aren’t doing very well =/= aren’t doing very well in the NBA

  9. Smiley Pete
    10:35 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    Why don’t you include the percentages for UK and the other teams you mentioned?

  10. dave
    10:36 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    so you write 6 paragraphs about the non-NBA graduation rate in ncaa b-ball on a UK blog, but don’t even put up UK’s rate???

  11. Brandon
    10:45 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    @7, 10 – this article says 78% of student-athletes who came to Kentucky as freshmen between 02-03 and 05-06 graduation.

  12. John Wilmhoff
    10:46 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    7, 9, and 10) I have no idea how I’d be able to figure out what UK’s exact numbers are, do you? Thinking about the players who have been around, it would have to be much higher, but I have no proof.

    I was just using the numbers for the schools provided by CNN. The article referenced didn’t mention UK, likely because there is not such a problem there. If UK was anywhere near as bad as those schools we would have surely been mentioned in the article. Dodson transferred. Orton left in bad academic standing. Other than those two, everyone else has took care of business. It’s been widely publicized that Eloy, Darius, and Patterson have graduated, so it’s been pretty close to perfect for those who have stayed for four years since Cal has been here. Many schools like Florida are not graduating four-year athletes, which is a much bigger problem than players leaving early and becoming successful in the NBA.

    If UK is anywhere close to 38%, it would be a well known fact. At Florida, nobody cares what’s going on. If Cal had those same numbers you bet it would be much more publicized.

  13. Grad Facts
    10:53 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    Looking over the rosters since Cal has been here and excluding those who left for the NBA draft, I got

    7 graduates (Miller, Vargas, Krebs, Patterson, Perry Stevenson, Ramon Harris, Harrellson)
    2 transfers which count negatively (Stacy Poole, Darnell Dodson)

    which gives a 77% rate

    Amazingly everyone else is still on the team or making millions in the league

  14. dave
    10:58 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    12- 69%. took me one google search. internet is hard.

  15. KT
    11:03 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    My bad Brandon, I assumed he had screwed up and got kicked out of the league by now, he was kind of a grade A jerk and a screw-up while he was here. I don’t follow NBA very closely. Is Orton actually playing? Dleague? Canadian?

  16. RC
    11:05 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    This article from October of this year provides UK athletic graduation rates. Pretty good for UK.

  17. RC
    11:06 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry, just saw that 11 posted this article already.

  18. KT
    11:52 pm December 9, 2012 Permalink

    dave, I believe those numbers are wrong but I couldn’t open the link you posted. The current is 77%.

  19. zzzzzzzzz
    5:23 am December 10, 2012 Permalink

    Daniel Orton will make more money than all of you idiots bashing him

  20. Big Whoop
    7:25 am December 10, 2012 Permalink

    This post is an example of yellow journalism at its worst. You could’ve at least taken the time to look up the actual study rather than depend on a CNN article. Oh, I forgot, if it’s posted on the internet it must be true. Here’s the actual press release on the study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.'s%20Basketball%20Tournament%20Teams%20Study.pdf

    You cannot tell from the “study” what years were studied since it doesn’t list the source(s), so it must be an Executive Summary or simply a Press Release. If not, this is purely agenda-driven to show that black student athletes don’t fare as well as white student athletes in college basketball programs.

    Here’s what’s wrong with the study:
    1)The study doesn’t provide sources other than saying the information comes from the NCAA
    2)The study doesn’t compare Basketball Athletes to the student population as a whole

    I’m sure the actual study provides sources and methodology. If not, it is very lazy academically. This post, however, is clearly written to take a cheap shot at Florida and Billy Donovan while trying to pump up UK with no facts.

    Here’s the comparison for those interested and I’ve added Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville and Duke just for entertainment value (in no particular order):

    APR: Kentucky 974, Florida 964, Louisville 965, Kansas 1000, Duke 990, UNC 985, Indiana 929

    Over-all Student Athlete GSR: Duke 97, Florida 83, Kansas 79, Kentucky 77, Louisville 81 UNC 88, Indiana 77

    Black Basketball Student Athletes’ GSR: Louisville 50, Kentucky 60, Kansas 80, Florida 20, Duke 100, Indiana 43, UNC 86

    White Basketball Student Athletes’ GSR: Duke 100, Florida 100, Kentucky 100, Louisville 100, Kansas 100, UNC 100, Indiana 100

    Over-all Basketball Student Athlete’s GSR: Duke 100, Indiana 47, Florida 38, Kansas 91, Kentucky 69, Louisville 56, Indiana 47, UNC 89

    Finally, two thoughts: UCLA wasn’t included because they didn’t make the 2012 NCAA Tournament and Harvard solved the agenda issue by not having any Black Student Athlete Basketball players.

  21. Brandon
    9:52 am December 10, 2012 Permalink

    @15 – D-League, the team with the Oklahoma City Thunder. granted, i don’t know how the contract works, since he’s played with the Thunder in a game this season, so he may have a rather low-paying deal.

  22. Terpsgo45
    3:58 pm December 10, 2012 Permalink

    I too agree that most of this stuff is overblown by fans and that most places for the most part do things the right way in regard to academics. It certainly isn’t a bad thing for players to chase their NBA dreams and is doubly awesome when they come back for their degree.

    Sidenote @Bigwhoop..It is kind of silly to include Indiana’s APR numbers since they include data from that scumbag Kelvin Sampson still. I believe they have had 1000 APR rates for the last few years.

  23. aric
    4:58 pm December 10, 2012 Permalink

    The linked article references a 4-year reporting period ending in 2006… before Calipari even had his Memphis banner hung (and thus before they had it taken down). How exactly do glorify Calipari for UK graduation rates from 2003 – 2006???